We were invited to a therapy session at Ganbanyoku at Far East Plaza, and it was my first time experience at a rock spa. I’ve not ever tried it, not even in Japan, so it was all new to me!
Anyone near my age will know what a Hot Stone restaurant is, but what is hot stone therapy? It’s completely different from a hot stone restaurant – and you can read more technical info from this Japanese Ganbanyoku company, In a nutshell, these beds are made of special stones imported from Kyushu Japan that emit Far Infrared Rays (FIR) which heats the body from deep within to perspire, relax and loosen tight muscles and joints. It has a whole array of health benefits, for everyone from 12 years old to 99 years and beyond. Read more about Ganbanyoku in general in Japan here.
After you enter the spa, you take off your shoes and receive a locker key, a set of yukata, and a set of towels. Then you change in the changing room, removing all your clothes, underwear optional. You will probably be super sweaty so you might want to consider bringing a change of underwear too.
Once you’re geared up and ready to go, you will be shown to your rock bed. If you have friends whom you would like to go with, you can try to make a booking for a room, otherwise you might be with strangers, but don’t worry, you’re still wearing your yukata, and just like visiting a Japanese onsen, no one is really interested to look at you.
Upon entering the room, you might feel that the room is rather stuffy, but you will slowly get used to it. I’ve done hot yoga several times before, and I felt this was less stuffy than hot yoga.
It is recommended to lie on the rock bed for about an hour. My first time everything felt really hot, and I needed to place the towel over the stones to lie on the bed. But the second and subsequent times felt more tolerable. If at any point the heat is unbearable you can just lie on a towel instead. The first time I also sweat a lot more compared to subsequent sessions, which I thought was very interesting. Greta, the owner, said that I could have had less toxins to sweat out on the subsequent sessions. For those who don’t sweat much, this is a great therapy to help get your body to release its toxins!
I have some sort of rheumatism or something going with one of my elbows, so I was interested to see how that would respond to the ganbanyoku, and I have to say that the therapy was very good! Of course it didn’t cure it, and the therapy is not touted to miraculously cure anything, but it was significantly less aching than usual. It’s recommended to go for ganbanyoku therapy sessions regularly for the full benefits, about twice a week, so I wish I lived next to this ganbanyoku, let me tell you!
As with massages, you are recommended not to shower after a session but there are showers available if you really need them. The best would not to meet anyone after a session or to go with friends so you can all be sweaty together. Haha! Just kidding, Let me warn you that I did sweat a LOT during and immediately after the session, especially since the yukata material seems quite water repellent. Once I changed out into my regular clothes it was fine.
Ganbanyoku is conveniently located at Far East Plaza. It is started by a wonderful friendly lady, Greta, who recently appeared in TNP. She is certainly keeping active in her silver years and swears by regular ganbanyoku sessions of course!
Ganbanyoku is suitable for everyone, and especially good for oldies, and I’ve seen some aunties there too. Coincidentally, shortly after my sessions at Ganbanyoku, I was at the onsen at the Sapporo New Chitose airport in Hokkaido, and saw that they have a variety of ganbanyoku rooms! I didn’t have time to try it but maybe I will give it a go next time. For now, Far East Plaza is a lot more convenient 😆
14 Scotts Road, #02-29 Far East Plaza, 228213
10am to 9pm (daily)