A few weeks ago, my daughter and I decided to visit ThaiMed Spa in Ginowan, and see why so many Japanese women are dedicated to getting their weekly ‘fix” of ganban’yoku, otherwise known as “hot stone bathing.”
The practice of hot stone bathing involves laying down on a heated slab of stone (made of ether granite, black silicone, or kihouseki). The slabs of rocks (rock beds) are heated, as is the room in which the rock beds are situated. The treatment involves lying down on one of the slabs for durations of 15 minutes at a time, alternating between prone stomach and back positions, and then leaving the room for 5 minutes to drink water and cool off. You will repeat these intervals for a total treatment time of 90 minutes.
Kihouseki, which is the type of rock used at Thaimed Spa, emits far infrared rays and negative ions. According to the website www.blacksilica-intl.com, far infrared rays “are absorbed by cells throughout the body and cause blood vessels to dilate, which is said to improve blood circulation, speed up the metabolism and help to eliminate wastes.” And negative ions “are a type of antioxidant present in nature that is reported to react with and break down toxins in the bloodstream.”
What this means, in terms of health benefits, is that the combination of far infrared rays and negative ions, work together to promote the following activities in our bodies:
- improve skin tone
- aid weight loss (by speeding up metabolism and eliminating waste)
- cause blood vessels to dilate which in turn helps to improve blood circulation
- alleviate back and shoulder pains
- lower blood pressure
- boost immune system and help reduce the effects of pollen allergies, diabetes, constipation, menstrual disorders, rheumatism and arthritis
My key motivation in trying ganban’yoku was influenced by it’s claims of improving blood circulation. My body temperature is typically quite low and I suffer from poor blood circulation. One of the negative consequences of poor circulation (from a runner’s perspective), is that I often experience swelling in my lower extremities and calf muscles. It’s obviously difficult to say if one visit had any positive effect, but I do plan to visit the spa on a frequent basis and see if there is any significant improvement over a certain period of time (I’ll keep you posted).
Instructions on what you will need to if you decide to try ganban’yoku:
- Check in at the front counter and fill in a personal information card
- You will be directed to a changing room and given a key and locker. Inside your locker you will find a cup, towels, and bathing clothes. Change into your bathing clothes, then remove the largest towel as well as the cup, and lock everything else up.
- Proceed into the bathing area. You will see a shelf on the wall with allocated cubbies to place your water cup. Before you put your cup up however, take a few sips of cold water.
- Enter the hot spa room, lay out your towel on the rock bed assigned to you, and lay down on your stomach. Lie there for approximately 7 or 8 minutes, then turn over on to your back. Do not stay in any one position for too long as you may end up with minor skin burns. After a total of 15 minutes, leave the room and go and sip on more cold water. Cool off for about 5 minutes before returning to your hot bed.
- After a total duration of 90 minutes, drink some more water and then go and change back into your clothes. There are showers in the changing room if you wish to shower, but it’s actually a good idea to hold off on the shower until you get home (your skin will stay moist and comfortably warm).
- Try to enjoy the experience
Cost: Y1300 for 90 minutes