Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Foot Bath (足湯)

What Feet Need to be Happy
The next time your feet scream at you for a break, take them to a foot bath, called ashiyu in Japanese and written with kanji as 足湯.  Your revitalized feet will thank you, and their contentment will diffuse throughout your whole body. As soreness and weariness disappear, your arches will be full of spring again, and your entire day will be renewed.

Many Japanese hot spring resort areas have walking courses, and it is quite natural for tourists to get tired walking hither and thither while taking in the sights, so city planners often  incorporate foot baths into walking routes.

Senami Onsen, a traditional, small hot spring village in Murakami, Niigata, has five unique foot baths, including one specially designed for people in wheelchairs, as well as one that is associated with a haiku poet. Read more here.

The town of Obama, Nagasaki, has taken the foot bath and made it into a walking path. This foot bath is 105 meters long. By the way, yes, Obama is the famous Japanese town which proudly supported Barrack Obama during his first presidential election campaign. And no, Barrack Obama's ancestors were not born in the town of Obama and President Obama is not Japanese. Obama, Nagasaki, is a wonderful place to visit.  Look forward to more posts related to Obama in the future. For now, you might enjoy reading an article, published by Huff Press, about the Obama/Obama connection. The article is illustrated with amusing photographs, and it includes letters from the mayor of Obama to President Obama, and vice versa.

Let's walk back to the topic of foot baths. Like all springs, the mineral content, temperature, and surroundings will affect your experience. Ideally, a foot bath should be situated with views of natural scenery or surrounded by greenery. Another unique foot bath, pictured below, is a steam bath for feet. Perhaps, the only one in the world is in Beppu, Oita, where people are crazy about using hot springs for steaming food, as well as their own feet.

Steamed Feet Feel Great!