October 1, 2013
As the world’s largest urban area, Tokyo is manifestly chaotic. The sprawling city is a complex tangle of districts; its streets a riot of colour and crowds. Amongst all this, it’s hard to believe you can snatch a moment of relaxation, but the truth is Tokyo is home to some of the country’s finest and most tranquil Japanese spas.
From wellness destinations that occupy lofty positions in the city’s most exclusive hotels (with staggering cityscape views as part of the package) to traditional Japanese onsen that invite visitors to relax in bubbling natural springs, Tokyo is a dream destination for those seeking some serious R&R.
In the Mandarin Oriental’s 37th floor spa, the view isn’t just a bonus; it’s one of the venue’s top selling points. Sitting high above the crowded streets below, the spa’s wrap-around windows reveal a glowing panorama that’s even more impressive after the sun sets. Those really looking to indulge can sign on for one of the five VIP private suites. Each session begins with a ceremonial Asian foot washing, designed to rid guests of their worldly concerns, before embarking on a journey through oriental massages, adzuki bean body scrubs, and other one-of-a-kind treatments.
The lavish Peninsula Spa, which overlooks the Imperial Gardens, provides guests with a serene alternative to busy central Tokyo. Welcoming each visitor with an in-depth consultation and traditional tea ceremony, the spa offers a number of treatments that are influenced by ancient East Asian techniques. The Keihatsu massage incorporates traditional Japanese shiatsu methods that are designed to promote a healthy Qi, and tailor-made treatment options let guests pick and choose from the spa’s extensive menu.
Yes, this is the lavish hotel that Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson’s characters stayed in in Lost In Translation. But whether or not you’re a movie buff, there’s no doubt that the hotel’s spa offers some of the best treatments available in the capital. In what is by now a common refrain with Tokyo’s Japanese spas, the Club on the Park Spa offers incredible sweeping views of the city, in addition to traditionally Japanese-infused care options. Settle into a churning onsen bath and feel the stress melt away, or sign on for a Tokyo Journey combination head and body massage.
Head to Shimizu-yu Onsen, one of the Tokyo metropolitan area’s finest hot water bathhouses, for a taste of traditional Japanese spa treatments. Offering therapeutic golden-hued baths, full of iodine-rich, skin-softening waters, the spa is also the only in Tokyo to provide black-water springs. Ignore the murkiness: these soothing, warm baths are full of minerals, and the water comes from a geographical formation that’s over a million years old.
The luxurious relaxation room at the Peninsula Spa by ESPA © The Peninsula Tokyo
Written by Claire Bullen
Have you ever been to a traditional Japanese onsen? Or relaxed at a Japanese spa with a view? Let us know in the comments below.