Updated: Apr 1, 2021
Known for their wise and calm demeanours, the Japanese possess centuries-old wellness rituals that have shown to keep people happy and healthy. Whether or not you’ve visited Japan to experience it first-hand, the power of Japanese wellness is evident.
Photo: Onsen dengan pemandangan Gunung Fuji
J-Wellness puts nature and relaxation first, giving priority to herbs, hydration, and mindfulness. At Maison Ito, we believe that these ancient rituals are vital to achieving a healthier body and mind. Here we’ll share five simple ways you can embrace Japanese wellness in your daily life.
#1 Reach for an Herbal Refreshment
In Japan, drinking tea is about refreshing the body, mind, and spirit. Matcha tea, in particular, was popular with Samurai and Buddhist monks for its mental and physical healing properties. This powdered green tea contains plenty of antioxidants, Vitamin C, L-theanine, and amino acids which aid mental focus and allow for physical relaxation at the same time. Green tea also has significantly less caffeine than coffee. A cup of green tea only has 28 milligrams of caffeine, while coffee has 96 mg.
Drinking green tea can even help boost your metabolism and promote a healthy weight. Scientists have found that this tea has properties that can facilitate cell rejuvenation which means great things for your body and skin. Combined with its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, it’s easy to see why the Japanese hold green tea in such high regard. Other teas such as houjicha, sencha, or kukicha, also hold beneficial health properties and can be enjoyed while taking a break from your day.
#2 Enjoy the Ritual of a Japanese Bath
Photo credit: Hoshino Resorts KAI Ito
A warm, relaxing bath can make anyone feel right as rain. For the Japanese, a bath isn’t just a luxurious way to get clean, it’s a pillar of wellness. Traditional hot spring baths, known as onsen, remain popular in Japan for their ability to promote wellbeing, relaxation, and enjoyment. These traditional baths not only clean the body beautifully, but they also remind people to slow down, focus on themselves, and let the troubles of daily life melt away. The Japanese also love hot springs like Ito for its lush greenery and utterly relaxing baths.
Want to recreate the experience of a Japanese bath? First of all, you’ll need mist to evoke the hot spring feeling and warm water to soften the skin and relax the muscles. Then add an aromatic element, either with a diffuser or a fragrant natural body wash from this local favourite, Soeder. For ultimate relaxation, you’ll need to complete your Japanese bath with a massage. We recommend you tie your hair up, as is onsen tradition to avoid creating any hairballs, while you gently rub a bit of oil like Japanese camelia (tubaki) onto your skin. Regular bathing can help you achieve ultimate skin goals or as the Japanese call it, mochi-hada (rice-cake skin) which is a nod to soft and plump Japanese desserts.
#3 Maintain a Healthy and Balanced Diet
If you are what you eat, then the Japanese are whole grains and raw fruits or vegetables. After all, sushi isn’t uncooked for any old reason; the Japanese believe that the healthiest foods are raw. Raw fruits and vegetables have more nutrients, although boiling and steaming them can help maintain their vitamins and minerals. Boiled veggies accompanied by rice or noodles can be seen in dishes all over Japan. Seaweed, like nori and wakame, is another common Japanese food that holds surprising health benefits.
However, it’s not only what the Japanese eat, but how they eat that allows for a balanced diet. The concept of hara hachi bu dictates that you should stop eating when you are 80 percent full. This is key to Japanese wellness as this form of eating keeps you satisfied, as well as slim and healthy. It’s this mindful way of eating that permits people to be more conscious of what and how much they eat. Balance in every part of life is essential when practicing this ancient type of wellness.
#4 Connect with Nature
Photo credit: Unsplash
Our lives can benefit from more mindfulness, whether that be with how we eat or how we pass the time. Spending more time in nature to marvel at its wonders and soak up the sun is at the core of Japanese culture. Hanami or flower viewing is very popular in Japan, especially during the cherry blossom season. People sit beneath cherry blossom trees and watch nature bloom before their eyes. Others prefer to take long walks through the park for flower viewing, giving their bodies low-impact, but effective physical exercise. This mindful exercise can also be enjoyed in Zug, Switzerland.
Being in nature promotes relaxation, improves our mood, and facilitates meditation. Furthermore, spending time outdoors can help us get a nice dose of Vitamin D which fights heart disease. Feeling the sunlight and wind on our faces invigorates the mind, body, and soul. The Japanese word komorebi, or ‘sunshine through the trees’, speaks to this beauty of seeking the sun. In the end, taking time to smell the flowers or wander in the sunlight are aspects of J-wellness that we can all appreciate.
#5 Learn About Kintsugi
Photo credit: Panduro
Japanese wellness expert Candace Kumai believes that everyone should welcome the concept of kintsugi into their lives. Traditionally an art form dedicated to repairing broken pottery with gold, kintsugi has become a movement that celebrates flaws. Rather than choosing to determine our wellness by how “perfect” we are, kintsugi conveys that it’s our imperfections that make us special and unique. This aspect of J-wellness asks us to dive deeper and learn how to accept ourselves for who we are.
Learning to accept your imperfections and see how they make you a work of art is the symbolic nature of the kintsugi movement. Without the gold lacquer that highlights the cracks and flaws, the ceramic wouldn’t be so extraordinary like the work of Helga Ritsch. As people, we must realise that we are most beautiful when we are completely ourselves. Mistakes and accidents should be appreciated for what we learn from them, not hidden away. In the end, true wellness is finding peace with your innermost self.
Japanese wellness principles have been improving lives for centuries. If you’re hoping for a hands-on J-wellness experience infused with notes of cypress wood, then book an experience at Maison Ito. Choose from treatments such as beard + face massage, signature face massage, lifting massage, and power-yoga massage from our highly trained facialist Emilie. Select the session that best fits your needs with options of 60 and 90-minute massages. Boost your wellness today and schedule an appointment.
BY ASHUNI P. & EMILIE CELINE
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