Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Best Cascading Japanese Hot Spring Massage of 2014

Hot water cascading onto your shoulders and neck can be akin to a massage from the best masseuse in the world. It is bliss. Among all of the hot springs that I visited in 2014, the best falling mineral water massage I experienced was during a visit to the Meitetsu Inuyama Hotel outdoor bath.
Ahh, outdoors, surrounded by rocks and boulders placed with that exquisite Japanese sense of design that brings a sense of nature to an enclosed space, one can only relax. Your stress falls away, first like a drizzly rain, but then after surrendering your body to the pulsating water, all  stress is purged. It runs out of you, like the current of hot water flowing over your body. Negativity has no place in the greenery around you, in your mind, and in your heart. You are refreshed!
Unlike a regular massage in which you are, for the most part, manipulated by someone else, you can control your own massage by aligning the muscles or nerves you want heated and pressed by swaying or twisting your body slightly to allow the fingers of the falling water to find all the right spots. Sit down, stand up, move in, move out, do whatever you want to feel goooooooooood!
And when your massage is finished, open all of your physical senses. You will experience the smooth hot water on your skin, the cooler air flowing into your lungs, the changing light as clouds drift and light rays dance through the bamboo and other leaves, the splashing sounds of water and catlike murmurs of pleasure from bathers near you, and the scent of water, soil, and leaves. This is what will happen to you if you experience, with an open mind, a cascading water massage like this. It is called utaseyu (打たせ湯) in Japanese.


The hot spring facilities at the Meitetsu Inuyama Hotel also include a large indoor bath with a clear view of the outdoor garden and outdoor bath. Next to the indoor bath with its thermal mineral water is an icy cold bath. Many bathers like to cool their bodies immediately before or after cleansing their bodies in the spacious sauna room.

The changing room when I visited was meticulously clean and organized. All sections of the bathing section of the hotel, from the hallways leading from the main part of the hotel to the outdoor bath, were aesthetically pleasing.

Unfortunately, visitors cannot just drop in for a bath. You can stay at the hotel and bathe for free or eat lunch in their restaurant and then pay for the bathing experience. After I told the management that I had just eaten and that I write about hot springs, I was allowed to bathe without having to purchase another lunch. I did pay for my entrance to the bath, and this positive review is due to the quality of the bathing experience only. I did not receive any money or services from the hotel.
Urakuen, a gorgeous traditional Japanese garden, is on the grounds of the hotel. Anyone interested in Japanese tea culture should visit the wonderful and priceless centuries-old tea house within the garden. It is one of the most famous Japanese tea houses in all of Japan. Jo-an is the name of the historic building. It was designed by a feudal lord/tea master/monk who is connected with the beginnings of the Japanese tea ceremony. Only two tea houses in Japan are national treasures.You can enjoy drinking tea in the same environment that samurais, monks, and merchants did hundreds of years ago.
 Inuyama City is an hour or so from Nagoya by bus, train or car. My suggestion is to combine cultural tourism with the hedonistic pleasure of a fantastic bath. Be sure to visit Jo-an, Inuyama Castle, and stroll along the main river in front of the hotel. You can even take boat trips. There is a lot to do, including rock climbing on some cliffs near the river. Check the Internet or a guide book to learn more about this wonderful location.