Japan is known for its hot springs, shiatsu massage and elite beauty treatments, and now is the perfect time to experience them all. Here is a list of five Tokyo-area spas to visit this season:
The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo
Sitting on the 37th floor of Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo, this sleek Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star spa is known for its dazzling views and exclusive suites. Almost like mini-spas unto themselves, the suites have two massage beds, their own dining area, private bathrooms and showers and Mount Fuji vistas.
Defrost from winter with the Ultimate Bathing Ritual. You’ll be exfoliated and slathered with sweet almond oil before soaking in the Matsukaze Suite’s infinity tub. Afterward, a customized facial and an aromatherapy massage will revive you.
The Sakura Ritual is another all-encompassing treatment to prep you for the season. An Azuki Bean Scrub made of sesame seeds, salt and finely ground Japanese azuki beans (which draw out impurities and spur circulation) will exfoliate and tighten your skin. Then a full-body massage using shiatsu and Thai techniques will loosen those tight muscles.
The Peninsula Spa Tokyo
The Peninsula Tokyo’s Five-Star spa is a total wellness experience that comes complete with a heated pool and a fitness center. Upon arrival at the immaculate spa, you are greeted with tea and an in-depth consultation before your treatment.
The service menu has an Asian influence, as does the overall décor (dark, rich golden hues and Japanese washi paper interior). The Tokyo spa’s nine treatment rooms are equipped with private showers; they even have adjustable heated treatment beds.
The specialized thermal suites consist of aromatherapy showers and crystal steam rooms. Keihatsu massage, designed to encourage a good qi energy, is the signature therapy, which has been developed exclusively for the Peninsula Spa. This method is a combination of Japanese shiatsu practices, essential oils and hot stones to stretch the muscles and revitalize the spirit.
Other unique treatments at Peninsula spa that will work wonders for you this spring include oxygen infusion facials, personalized herbal body masks and the January-debuted Simply Peninsula Royal Thai Massage.
Aman Spa, Aman Tokyo
Designed by architect Kerry Hill in the style of a Japanese ryokan (a traditional inn), Tokyo’s largest spa offers eight treatment rooms, paneled in castor aralia wood and filled with the relaxing scent of kuromoji oil. Four-Star Aman Tokyo‘s extensive center of calm includes a yoga and Pilates studio, hot tub, gym and pool.
A particularly opulent item on the spa menu is the Aman Tokyo Signature Journey, 150 minutes of purification and rejuvenation through an aromatic clay body scrub and a long, luxurious massage.
If you seek an answer for your damaged winter skin, look no further than the Aman Tokyo’s Seasonal Journeys menu. With the aid of fresh ingredients like cherry blossom and magnolia, melt away during a 90-minute body massage and 30-minute scrub or wrap (a 60-minute massage is also available) that will have you glowing all spring long.
Though it’s roughly 125 miles northwest of Tokyo, Kusatsu Onsen has one of the finest natural hot springs in Japan. The Gunma prefecture attraction is a perfect day trip and makes for a relaxing outing in a natural setting. The central draw to the resort town is its particular spring water, which is slightly acidic — an excellent skin cleanser and softener.
The area around the onsen is lined with local shops, restaurants and traditional Japanese inns. You’ll notice locals wandering around the streets in yukata (Japanese bathrobes) after a relaxing soak. If you come for a day trip to Kusatsu, a daytime admission fee ($10 to $15) is charged by the local ryokan, but it includes the use of changing rooms and a robe.
To get from Tokyo to Kusastu, take the limited express train from Ueno Station to Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi Station (around 2.5 hours). From there, Kusatsu is a 30-minute bus ride. It’s well worth the journey.
Jet Set Dry Bar
In Tokyo’s trendy Hiroo district, there is one particular place where ladies are vying for an appointment. But a visit to Jet Set provides more than merely an extravagant head spa treatment. With a flute of champagne in hand and the hint of green tea in the air, the place has an upmarket ambience that still somehow feels 100 percent organic.
Jet Set is officially a blow-dry bar, offering head and shoulder massages, a wash, blow dry and set — the only place of its kind in Tokyo offering such an exhilarating combination. This spa salon uses only natural products, such as Rahua’s rainforest-grown hair care line and other vegan, gluten-free items. A wash and blow dry comes with a professional scalp massage. To prep for spring, request the 90-minute DoTerra Head Spa, which includes a hair treatment, an aromatherapy head and shoulder massage and more.
A nail artist is also available (by appointment only) and eyebrow threading is offered on Saturdays — another rarity in Japanese spas and salons.