The Ancient Science Behind Hot Spring Therapy

  • Isshukan hitomeguri (one week visit) is a phrase widely used in Japan as a therapeutic bathing in hot springs for a healthy mind and body. In short, it is the basic unit and time-frame given to someone who wishes to engage in a hot spring therapy and this practice was established some 400-500 years ago during the Edo period.


    The Benefits of Hot Spring Therapy


    Stimulation is actually one of the key elements that is promoted in hot spring bathing. Through active stimulation of the body, the minerals and other elements within our body are released to induce hormonal secretion. In the beginning of the therapy, the sympathetic nerves become more active raising blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar levels. To correct such abnormalities in the body, the parasympathetic nerves become predominant and there is a decrease in blood pressure, heart rate and blood sugar. As predomination of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves alter, the body eventually reaches a stable condition wherein the blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar are normalized or are at an equilibrium state, thus allowing the body to repair itself.

    The Science of Onsen Therapy

    Some may say that science in its deepest sense is a verifiable truth as was the case with one of the famous doctors in the Edo period (1603-1868) named Goto Konzan (1659-1733). A master of traditional medicine who taught over 200 apprentices noted that Chinese pharmaceuticals are often difficult to assess and to verify the effects of. In light of this, Konzan-sensei pioneered the development of verifiable medical practices in Japan which facilitated the medical reformation movement in the country. He was the proponent of the theory of ikki ryutai (energy blockage) with the belief that humans become sick because of a blockage in the flow of “ki” or the energy within their bodies. According to the master, soaking in hot springs with a temperature of 42 degrees Celsius such as at Kinosaki Onsen (Hyogo Prefecture)–one of Japan’s top onsen areas–could effectively restore the balance of energy within the body system.

    What do you think about Onsen Therapy? Would you like to try it when you aren’t feeling your best?