Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Study Abroad Japan: Ganbanyoku a great way to detox and relax

Ganbanyoku a great way to relax and detox when you visit a hotspring (onsen) in Japan.

Ganbanyoku 岩盤浴 translate as base rock bath。A room that consists of a heated rock floor that slowly gets warmer. Customers lie on a towel, the higher room temperature is conducive for sweating and detoxing. My local onsen has a separate Ganbanryoku room as part of the hotspring complex. For an admission of 900 yen (9 US$) you get a chance to have a ganbanyoku experience and 2 hours to acess and enjoy the various hotspring baths on offer. On arriving at the front desk, you have a choice of a range of times to chose from, each session lasts approximately 25 minutes. Staff provide a cotton two piece suit(short sleeve top and shorts) and a large towel. Customers change into the suit before entering the ganbanyoku room and consume a few glasses of water. Staff guide you into the room when the session begins and customers select an individual booth and place their large towel on the floor. Traditionally you lie face toward the floor as the room lights fade to dark, some gentle music begins to play and the heat rises.After about ten minutes you are instructed in Japanese to turn over and lie on your back for the remainder of the session. The silence of the room, the gentle music and the heat make it a comfortable and relaxing experience. At the end of the session, the lights come on slowly and an instructor enters the room.It is not until this point that you realize how much you have sweated as you get a first glance at your cotton suit and towel. On leaving the room a few glasses of cold water are in order at the dispenser.Wooden seats allow you to wipe the sweat off and replenish lost liquid as you cool down.

Customers then re enter the sex coded bathing entrance, remove the cotton suit and place it in a large clothing bin for washing. A hot spring bath after ganbanyoku is an ideal way to further relax. Check your weight when you get out to see how much weight you have lost. Celebrate with a delicious meal in the bathouse restaurant when you leave. Maybe a cold beer and some deep fried gyoza?

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