Friday, April 16, 2010

Sand Baths

Bathing in Sand! Isn't that dirty?
Sand baths are, as the name implies, gritty, but they feel great. Natural steam from our friend, the Earth, releases heat into the layer of sand surrounding your submerged body.  Bathers are buried by friends or sand-bath staff, or they bury themselves as best they can.  Unlike a hot water spring, in which one feels the heat immediately, it takes longer for the steam to encompass and raise the temperature of your body, and when that happens, you will sweat profusely.  Many people say that sand baths, because they heat the body slowly, are healthier for people with health problems, such as heart problems, which a sudden immersion into hot water might adversely stress. 

Bathers usually wear a yukata to keep the rough hot sand out of private areas.  Sand baths are also usually for mixed company.  Ibusuki, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan, is  the most famous area in Japan for sand baths, many of which are on beaches with sea views.  The bathers in Ibusuki are buried with only the head above the sand.  A parasol is often stuck in the sand next to each head as protection against sunburns.  

The lovely sandy lady above is enjoying a sand bath in Kanawasou, a small rustic Japanese ryokan in Beppu, which allows non-guests access to their baths.  For only 500 yen, visiting bathers have access to a sand bath, an indoor rock bath, an outdoor bath, and a steam sauna. I highly recommend Kanwasou.  The sand is clean; actually, it is steam cleaned, and a bath filled with hot spring water is next to the sand baths for rinsing.  


Buried at the Beach and Loving It
Helpful Directions for Crabs and People