Onsen - what was my experience

Onsen - what was my experience

I recently had the benefit of visiting an Onsen spa. One of the many joys of being in "healthcare" is being invited to experience new things. So it was with the Onsen spa. 

If you do not know what an Onsen spa is, let's get that out of the way.

The Japanese have been using public baths for a long time. At least since the 8th century, according to recorded history. An Onsen spa, then, is a public place where you can bathe in hot and cold water, Japanese style.

So what was the experience like for me? 

I love all things Japanese. Their sense of etiquette, their desire to slow down and calm the mind and body, their tea rituals. Zazen, the Japanese form of meditation, is my choice.

At the Onsen, you enter water that is approximately 38 °C. Progressively, you enter different pools where the temperature gets warmer. You can alternate the heat with the cold, plunging into a pool that is 17 °C. 

In between all of this, you enter a heated pool full of magnesium bath salts and the chosen oils that help your mind and body relax. 

Needless to say, the experience was extremely relaxing. But beyond the joy, what was the medical or health benefit? 

When you are in hot water, your blood circulation increases. I could literally feel the blood rushing into my brain, and my nerves swell. Alternating this with the cold water allows your heartbeat to slow down. The magnesium helps your muscles relax. 

You have effectively created the equivalent of increased blood flow, the removal of lymphatic waste, and relaxation of your muscles, all while enjoying the tranquilly that only the Japanese can get right. 

I wish we had more of these public baths in India. More importantly, perhaps the perception with which these baths are seen, especially in India, could evolve. 

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