(I didn’t take any pictures of or within the spa. That would be illegal and in general, not good form. This is a picture of me licking the face of my best friends sister.)
Again, I need to start with a disclaimer:
In no way am I attempting to ridicule or make fun of Japanese culture. I love it here and I love the people here. I’ve said that several times thus far (recent posts) and I’m sure I will say it several more. The spa, though, wasn’t something I was ready for. Again, I’m not making fun. I’m just describing what I experienced and what I saw and why it was new to me.
Also, this post will not be as rich in detail. Spas, in Japan, are apparently a hotbed for naked people.
My friend plays for a Korean baseball team that is training in Japan. The team treats its players well, especially in regards to hotel privileges.
At all three of the hotel restaurants, at the hostesses counter, lies a team list. This list includes names of all players and coaches. The list denotes that you are approved for a free meal upon sign-in. As the team departs for practice early, gone until the evening, I’m typically left with about six to seven hours to pick and choose. If they were to ever monitor those lists, it might jump at you as strange that Anthony Ranaudo enjoys 4-5 meals while practicing with his team…
The same applies for the spa. A similiar list, for players and coaches, is available upon check-in. It enables a prepaid purchase of said facilities. Yesterday, I decided to visit that spa. I needed it.
After two weeks in Japan, adhering to a five-seven meal regimen (rice on rice on rice), I had gained an aggressive 20 lbs. My jeans didn’t fit and as I walked the beach parents shielded their children. I needed the gym. I went.
Following brief exercise, my body hurt. I was a little over-zealous and tried posting a sub 10-minute mile. I did pushups, too. I hurt. The spa beckoned as a necessary means of rest and recovery.
Without getting into too much detail, or at least, less vivid detail, here is rundown of procedure and thought from my spa visit:
- Nudity. Let’s just get that out in the clear. Everyone was naked. In open, and communal, and roundtable fashion, everyone was naked. To any athlete, you’re immediately thinking that this is nothing new. Teammates shower together, post practice and game. You would be correct in saying that. I’ve been in locker rooms my whole life. But this, was just, different.
- I’m not implying any type of undertone here. It’s just, in all locker rooms or spa-type facilities I’ve been in before, you towel up when sitting next to a buddy to discuss weather. That’s all.
- You are supposed to leave your towels in the changing room. In the main, shower/Jacuzzi/sauna, you are given a small, water resistant cloth (napkin). I used it to cover myself. Everyone else used and left theirs in the showers.
- Men sat on hot and cold tub ledges. They sat adjacent their buddies, comfortable and obtuse. I focused hard on the ceiling.
- In the U.S., all hot/cold tub facilities, for either recovery or leisure, compression sliders or trunks are worn. Provides comfortability and closure. Mostly closure. Again, not implying this to be better. It is just what I am used to and what I am comfortable with.
- Shower first. When you walk into the communal spa room, you see a row of showers. There are two standing showers followed by about fifteen squatting showers. I had intended to shower first, because I was feeling sufficiently grimy post-workout, but I didn’t know it was required. Upon entering, every shower was taken. There actually was one seated shower available at the far end, in between two larger Asian men, but I didn’t feel like being the (insert appropriate cultural reference here). I went to the Jacuzzi pool instead. I put one foot in and immediately was met with a cacophony of disapproval. They were nice though, after realizing they had my attention, and several men smiled and pointed to the showers.
- The ambiance was relaxing, as stone and bamboo fixtures made up the room, accompanied by soft, steady static. There was also an open ceiling divide between the women’s spa which let in sound. It never did sound like the towel and lotion fight I assumed to be taking place.
- Mist room. There was a small, hot mist room. I had never been in a hot mist room before. I liked it. Then a group of guys walked in. It was tough to stare at the ceiling because of the hot mist.
- I really missed trunks during and after the cold tub.
- I’m a big fan of squatting showers. I would prefer them in the confines of a private area, but still, squatting and rinsing is relaxing.
- Have not visited the dry sauna room. There are spots available for sitting, standing, and prone laying. I have not visited the dry sauna room.
- Take your shoes off when entering the spa lobby. That’s what they told me.