岩盤浴 Ganban-yoku: bedrock “bath” or hot stone spa.
The other day, I went to a ganban-yoku, bedrock bath. This is like a heated stone spa room, supposedly good for circulation, weight-loss, detoxing, and all sorts of other health things. The stones are said to emit far-infrared rays, minus ions and to possess other healing qualities. It is considered a “bath without the water.” The only water is your sweat! Anyway, it felt pretty good and I got the massage combination package (only ~4000yen for 90 minutes of ganban-yoku plus 1 hour whole body massage). I made reservations online through hotpepper beauty and was able to use my discount to make it even cheaper.
So first, same as the onsen, enter and remove your shoes, placing them in a locker or cubby. The front desk will check you in, get you towels/sauna clothes, etc. At this particular place, there was an outside locker for valuables so I put my purse in it. Inside the women’s section I went to my cubby area, showered, and changed into sauna clothes (called samue サムエ, or 作務衣).
To use the bedrock bath, bring the large towel you were given and spread it out at one of the spots; lie on top of this. It is so you don’t sweat on the floor and keep the area clean. There are little wooden headrests, too. The poster recommended 5 minutes lying on the stomach, 10 minutes on the back, and then a 5 minute in between break, repeating several times. Make sure to sip plenty of water in between as well to stay hydrated, plus it helps you sweat more.
Though the stone floor is quite warm, the air temperature is pretty good and it does not get stuffy like a regular sauna. I sweated quite nicely and enjoyed the quiet time. There were probably 6 -7 other women there at the same time, but as typical in Japan, it was very quiet as this is a time to relax. In between goes, there were some comfy chairs and magazines to browse through.
Afterwards, I had the massage, which was felt pretty good after some stressful days (weeks, months) of work and school. My muscles have definitely relaxed and loosened out some of the knots. I think even my body circulation feels better after all of that, I felt pretty refreshed afterwards. A good place to de-stress and recharge.
Finishing up, there was a shower area and the vanity area for freshening up. Though you aren’t supposed to shower after the ganbanyoku, only before entering… I guess this is “clean sweat” and you are only supposed to wipe it off with a towel. Just change back into your clothes, put the dirty clothes and towels in the laundry bin and check out.
By the way, the place I went is called Thingara and they also offers a men’s section; sometimes these places are women-only, so this is a good place to take a husband or boyfriend as well. They also offer hot yoga, though I assume it is held in Japanese, you could always try to join them anyway. There are quite a few other ganban-yoku around Okinawa, so if you don’t live or stay near Kitanakagusuku, you have some other options to check out (just put 岩盤浴 into google maps).
Another bonus to these bedrock baths are that if you have tattoo, the sauna clothes cover it, so I don’t think most places have any sort of tattoo policy, unlike many of the onsen.
address for Thingara in Kitanakagusuku てぃんがーら北中城店: 〒901-2301