SPA REVIEWS: Japanese-style Spas

Shiatsu massage

Shiatsu Massage

This Japanese modality is based on Chinese principles of acupressure, in which a therapist firmly manipulates points in the head and body, allowing internal energy (or qi) to flow in a more optimally balanced way. Prior to a shiatsu session, clients should complete a questionnaire to uncover health concerns, which the therapist should review before treatment. During a shiatsu session, clients typically wear loose, comfortable clothing—often provided by the spa. The treatment takes place either on a futon or a massage chair, depending on the type of body work each client requires.

Relaken recommends Shiatsu sessions (30-90 min./$90-$150), in conjunction with ganban-yoku, for the utmost in pain and fatigue relief. Willow Spa provides its shiatsu services (60-100 min./$95-$190) on either a table, or a Thai mat on the foor. “It’s usually booked by clients specifically seeking an acupressure-oriented treatment,” Reeves says.

Trained shiatsu practitioners can be found through the American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia (AOBTA), and the Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals.

Japanese Loungewear

Many Asian-style spas provide loose, casual tops and bottoms for their clients to wear during treatments and in relaxation areas. Japanese spa loungewear is usually marked by Asian design flourishes and silhouettes (think: Mandarin collars, simple frog closures and short flared pants in breathable fabrics such as pima cotton). Reeves and her partners designed their own Asian loungewear. “We wanted to create a space where men and women could lounge comfortably,” she explains. “We felt clients would feel more at ease in loungewear, rather than robes that easily fall open.” The outfits have become so popular among clients that the spa now sells them, both in-house and online.

Alison Singh Gee is a Los Angeles-based author and journalist. 

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