Sunamushi: Sand Baths

August 9, 2009

Hot Sand Baths, Ibusuki, by SSTUDIO
Sand baths in Ibusuki

Sand baths, or sunamushi (砂蒸し) as they are known in Japan, are one of the more relaxing ways to feel the heat after a hard day. Many onsen virgins often express concerns that they won’t be able to escape the pressure of the building sand; to them I say: Japanese grandmothers in Ibusuki enjoy being packed in sand about five times a week. You can rise up and leave at any time, and where else can you actually feel your pulse across your entire body?


In Kagoshima Prefecture about an hour’s train ride from the city, you can enjoy being buried in sand at the Natural Bath Sand Center on the coast (if you happen to be riding from Cape Sata, all the better).


At Takegawara Onsen in Beppu on the eastern coast of Kyushu, you can enjoy indoor sand baths; the hot springs isn’t quite equipped for regular soaks – in fact, I prefer the outdoor breeze in Ibusuki to cool off your face – but if you’re in the area, it’s definitely worthwhile.

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