Are you squeamish or love tickles? Then, perhaps, a fish spa is just the thing for you! The practice of taking foot baths as a remedy for skin conditions originated from Turkey and is now also recognized as a legitimate form of treatment in Germany. Many places across the world offer fish spa services as well.
These toothless 2-3cm short fish are known as Garra Rufa and stimulate acupressure points on the feet while nibbling on them. Doesn’t it sound absolutely appealing to have tons of little fish fight to nibble dead skin off your feet?! I had grown some nasty calluses on my heels from walking around Tokyo all day every day, and they were in dire need of some tender lovin’ bitin’!
After an awesome peaceful afternoon at Isshiki Beach in Hayama, we trooped over to Motomachi Chukagai aka Chinatown in search of Dr Fish. But not before detouring for some yaki xiaolongbao (焼きショウロンポウ) of course! They’re actually a Shanghainese street snack called sheng jian bao 生煎包, which are fried on the bottom on an iron skillet before water is added and a skillet is covered with a lid, effectively creating a steam bath. Without a dose of these crispy chewy little bombs of umami-packed goodness, a trip to Chinatown is deemed incomplete. Delish!
With eyes well trained by the mad plethora of signages in downtown Yokohama, we spotted “Fish Foot Massage” on the 2nd floor of the Daisekai building (same building as the trick illusion museum!). It had 5 little pools filled with teeny fish, where you could dip feet in for 10 minutes (¥1000 for adults, ¥900 for university students, ¥700 for high school students, ¥500 for kids, and free for under 3-year-olds.). We removed our socks and the friendly staff brought us to a shower at the side to rinse our feet. And off we went into the devil’s pond!
It was slightly ticklish at first but an oddly relaxing sensation slowly washed up after. We also had fun playing with the fish! Shifting our feet around and watching them swim up close was pretty amusing. I was so reluctant to pull my feet out when the 15 minutes was up! After drying off and upon close inspection of my battered feet, the skin on my soles looked softer and less dull. It could be psychological but it sure felt good! Given the more than reasonable price and proven benefits of the fish spa, it’s definitely a must-try. I just wish there were more easily accessible outlets in Tokyo! The fish are also on sale in the store if you’re up for a self-sufficient aquarium foot bath at home!