A trip to a Japanese spa is an experience you will never forget. Bath culture is a huge part of Japanese life, and there is nothing quite like a proper hot soak, surrounded by gorgeous design and tranquil aromas, to bring you to a higher state of relaxation.
Japanese spas are not a particularly common sight outside of Japan. While Turkish hammams and Swedish saunas have spread around the world, the onsen bath isn’t much known beyond the boundaries of Hokkaido, Honshu, Kyushu, and Shikkoko.
So if you can’t stop thinking about that cruise to Japan and want to recreate a slice of the country’s fascinating culture in your own home, here are some tips on designing your very own Japanese home spa.
An Onsen Bath
The main event of any Japanese spa is the onsen bath. These natural (or manmade) hot springs are the quintessential Japanese spa experience, a delicious combination of heat, relaxation, and natural minerals. While it is probably impossible for you to build one of these hot springs in your home, you can make do with an ofuro soaking tub filled with piping hot water, a natural body scrub, and packed with plenty of onsen baths salts, incense to complete the ambiance.
Separate Cleaning And Soaking Areas
A proper Japanese bathroom or spa differentiates the areas that are designed for relaxation and treatment and the areas designed specifically for cleansing. While not all of us are lucky enough to have bathrooms big enough to accommodate separate areas, you can make sure you have a shower area with floor drainage for getting squeaky clean (with a traditional wooden bucket for completeness) and a tub for soaking.
Japanese spas are all about minimalist design, a neutral color palette, and a calm and relaxed atmosphere that still exudes luxury. Soft browns, greens, and other earth tones are great for walls and floors, and you should avoid high gloss fixtures or shiny metal fittings. This palette should encompass hand and bath towels, floor mats, and bathrobes for the full experience.
Lots Of Light
A Japanese spa is all about bringing the natural world inside, and this applies to natural light as well. A Japanese spa is a light, airy experience, so make sure your home spa has loads of natural light. This might mean large windows or a skylight to add a view of the sky. If you can’t get enough natural light into your bathroom, try recessed bulbs to avoid the harsh glare of direct lighting.
Just as they separate cleaning and relaxing, Japanese spas and bathrooms make a clear-cut separation between the bathroom and the toilet. This helps preserve the purity and calm ambiance of the bathroom, taking it away from natural but less spa-like bodily functions. Make sure your Japanese spa does not have a toilet and opt for a separate room for a basin and flushing toilet.
Accessorize With Wood And Nature
As mentioned above, Japanese spas are all about the natural touches. So to finish off the perfect Japanese spa atmosphere, you need the right accessories, and the key is plants and natural wood. A wooden bath stool and a hinoki wood bath mat are great places to start, offering a wonderfully natural, woodsy smell and natural microbial properties. You can also try a few plants – small bamboo, bonsai, or ferns, as well as smooth river rocks as accessories.
With one or two main features and a few simple flourishes, it is a simple matter to recreate the joys of a Japanese spa in your own home!