Soaking in the Japanese bath

In a Japanese-style bathhouse, before we go into the tub, we are supposed to go to the “wash station” where a shower, a stool, and toiletries are provided, and wash and rinse our body thoroughly. Then we can soak in the bathtub. We are not supposed to clean ourselves in the tub because we are sharing the same water with other people there. Chatting with local people in the bathtub might be an interesting experience.

Wash station at the Japanese bathhouse
The “wash station” and the entrace to the sauna room at the back

While some of the Super Sentos are using heated tap water for their bathes, Kaze-no-Yu uses natural spring water. I asked the manager what kind of health benefits we can expect to get from soaking in the water there.
“Well, the soil around Mt. Fuji largely consists of basalt rocks (because of a number of past eruptions), so the water around here contains a mineral compound called vanadium pentoxide, which is said to have an effect similar to insulin and lower the blood sugar level.”
“Is it also effective for frozen shoulders?”
“I think so. It is also good for high blood pressure, gout, and constipation.”

Japanese-style outside bath
Relaxing in the outdoor bath

I asked her, “Do people from other countries sometimes come here to bathe?”
“Chinese people often come here. A while ago, people from Brazil came here and they wanted to take a bath in swimsuits,” she replied.

The cherry trees can be seen from the windows of the relaxation room

Well, I know it could require courage for international travelers to take a Japanese-style bath with other Japanese bathers, mainly due to the cultural difference. But I hope you will remember the words “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” and take the plunge. I also recommend that if you visit a sento for the first time, try to go with Japanese, or hire a Japanese tour guide, so that you know just what to do.

The dining room

What I especially like about Kaze-no-Yu Spa is its sotoyu (outdoor bath) because it commands a nice, natural view. We can enjoy the scenery of the nearby forest and the cherry trees, which are planted in the garden and blossom in mid-April. From the men’s sotoyu, we can also see the right-side of Mt. Fuji while soaking in the outside bathtub (but to see the entire view of the mountain, we need to get out of the tub and stand beside it, all naked in the coldness). This facility is located at a point of more than 500 meters above sea level and this elevation was originally made out of lava spewed by Mt. Fuji in ancient times. So, in a way, it can be said that this spa stands on a part of Mt. Fuji.

enjoying soaking in the bath at the foot of Mount Fuji
Enjoying the scenery while soaking in the outside bathtub

Another point I would like to highlight here is that we can experience ganban-yoku (literally, bedrock bathing) for free. In ganban-yoku, we are usually clad in a robe and lie on a large bedrock (Kaze-no-Yu uses a marble stone) for a considerable amount of time. The far-infrared rays emitted from the rock gradually permeates through our body, and it is believed that it can warm us more thoroughly than the bath water and bring us a lot of health benefits.
Kaze-no-Yu also has a large relaxation room surrounded by cherry trees, and a large karaoke room which requires a 100 yen coin per song.

Left: The ganban-yoku room Right: The large karaoke room

The bathing fee of Kaze-no-Yu is 900 yen in the daytime and 600 yen at night (please note this is the information as of 2019. If you visit there, please check once again). It is about 30 minutes by car from JR Fujinomiya Station and about 40 minutes by car from the Shin-Fuji Interchange on the Shin-Tomei Expressway.

Photographs: taken at Kaze-no-Yu Spa Resort, by Koji Ikuma,
with Fuji X-T1 & P.Angenieux Paris 15mmF1.3 
(courtesy of Kaze-no-Yu Spa Resort)

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