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Time For Your Sand Bath

Forget the bubbles and the aromatherapy oil – there’s nothing like a nice hot sand bath to put you back in fighting form! Like the sign says, “It feels really great when the heat penetrates to every corner of your body and you sweat a lot.” Southern Kyushu is famous for sunaburo, where hot springs seep up into beach sand and heat it to sauna-like sweatitude, but apparently there are also a lot of these tucked into Tokyo neighborhoods.

To take a sand bath, you put on a cotton yukata and lie down in the grave-like hole two burly guys have thoughtfully dug for you. Try not to think of being buried alive as they shovel the sand back onto every part of you but your head. Now you resemble a narrow pitcher’s mound. Let the sweating begin! They come back to dig you out after 10-15 minutes, which is plenty of time to turn you into a piece of overcooked vermicelli.

This sunaburo is at a public bath on Koshinzuka Street in Sugamo. If you’d like to visit Koshinzuka Street the next time you’re in Tokyo, a map is on my website, The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had.

Read a novel set in Tokyo

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Jonelle Patrick View All

Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!

2 thoughts on “Time For Your Sand Bath Leave a comment

    • The sand is really really hot, so I think it pretty much fries any bacteria and such that might want to take up residence. I seriously worried about the squick factor when I went to the mud baths in Calistoga, but it never crosses my mind when I go to sunaburo here. Somehow Japanese sand baths seem really clean.

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