Today we’re are here to talk about the Japanese Ashiyu. Japanese Ashiyu are brilliant places to bathe only your feet instead of having to go to the Japanese style saunas or steam rooms. It lends itself amazingly to busy people that need to have a relaxing experience on their way home from work or a commute of some kind. These places are especially popular with tourists because of their conveniently placed locations after long walks around the cities, towns and villages that Japan has to offer.
Ashiyu as a word comes from the Japanese words of Ashi meaning foot and yu meaning hot water. This is a literal translation that means simply bathing your feet in hot water springs.
So, here today we’ll go through just what the Ashiyu is from a simple relaxing thing to an ancient tradition. We will also discover the great health benefits they have to offer and the masses of popularity it has gained over the many years with locals and travellers alike. This is an old Japanese tradition and is taken with great respect but be assured it is amazing and feels like you are a part of some wonderful Japanese heritage when you visit them.
Ashiyu are basically a special kind of Onsen. Onsen is a Japanese Hot Spring that are more often than not completely natural springs. The Ashiyu is a special kind that allows for a little more discretion and convenience because they don’t require guests to strip down or have a before bath shower before being able to bath their feet in the beautifully clean hot spring water. Ashiyu are often paired with Teyu which is the same concept as the foot bath but for your hands. The Japanese take great care of their skin and the working salary men are often working long days that require them to take very good care of their feet and hands ensuring their continued good health.
These places are often a little more relaxed when it comes to rules and etiquette allowing for some informal chats with other bathers. Ashiyu and onsen are found over the entirety of Japan in stations and airports and spots of complete relaxation in the middle of busy bustling cities.
Whilst a lot of Ashiyu don’t charge some still do charge a small fee of around 300 Japanese Yen or less as a small token of respect to the staff that is referred to mainly as a donation.
Ashiyu in Popular Cities
It stands to reason that there are lots of spots all over Japan for locals and travellers alike with the most popular places being in the most urban and visited cities in Japan. Tokyo has lots and lots of places of course and this being the city that most people visit in Japan on a daily basis they are often quite busy. There are also tonnes of places in Japan’s second city of Osaka and with Osaka being the most beautiful city in the world (in my opinion of course) there is no better place to bath your feet. There are even Ashiyu in towns and villages near great natural wonders in Japan such as mountainous regions or national parks that cater brilliantly well for people on hikes, climbs or nature walks because their feet will be certainly feeling the pain.
Kagoshima is often cited as the most famous place for Ashiyu because of its ancient and world famous hot springs. It is so famous in fact that people often go there for actual tours of their Ashiyu. Locals visit there as holiday makers and travellers often visit for vacations of this place alone.
The ancient workers and warriors would use these facilities to pamper their feet and hands after working long days and after battles. Nowadays it is mainly used for regular working people.
Historically and even a lot of modern people still believe there are more and more benefits to Ashiyu than just caring for tired feet. By visiting an Ashiyu for only ten or fifteen minutes a day you can totally warm up your feet and in cold weather, when warming up your feet for that period of time it will in turn warm up your entire body giving you relaxing warmth in the bitter coldness of the Japanese winter months.
There is also said to be great physical and mental health benefits to doing this simple practice on a daily basis. Not only is this more warming for the body than a shower it will improve your mood and overall well being.
The Ashiyu popularity has shown no signs of slowing since ancient times. Walking past spots of either natural hot springs or artificial ones you will often always find them being used. One thing to be aware of though is that some spots do not offer towels with which to dry your feet with so always bring your own towel if you are visiting a foot bath. Or you could let your feet dry naturally if you have the time. Natural hot springs are almost always hotter than artificial ones so you may or may not want to stay in them for too long if the heat is a little too much. This is especially so for beginners to foot baths.
The popularity amongst travellers and holiday makers (vacationers) is huge. Hikers visit Japan from all over the world on a regular basis because of its spectacular scenery and hiking spots. There are quite often a lot of hiking group holidays that hike from Ashiyu to Ashiyu visiting them all and having a wonderful hike between them. This has been gaining in popularity over the years as Japan has become one of the leading countries in the world for hiking holidays.
So, there you have it, the Japanese Ashiyu (or Japanese Foot Baths) in all its glory. Whether you are looking for something to relax during your trip around a city or to experience them like the native locals do then you will be certain to find your perfect spot almost anywhere in this beautiful country. For a boost of authentic and traditional Japanese health and vitality do not hesitate to visit them when you next see one. And whether you are visiting a small town or village in the country or the biggest of cities like Tokyo or Osaka then you could always find one and if the business and or tiredness is getting to you from travelling around then you can take a foot bath and revitalise yourself, your body and your mind in tandem with each other.
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