Natural beauty

I love the hot spring culture we have in Japan. The hot water contains large amounts of minerals and is almost slippery, so that after a bath, my skin is wonderfully smooth and richly moisturised. The picture below is one of my favourite Onsen Ryokan (hot spring hotels) in Yufuin, in the western part of Japan. The bath is outside (protected from the public, of course) and looks almost like a pond in a Zen garden, doesn’t it? It means you can enjoy the hot springs while watching the seasonal beauty of the garden. Some people even have a glass of sake when they’re in the bath.

 (Photo: Sanso-Warabino)

There are some very nice beauty spas near hot springs in Japan, so we can enjoy a natural mineral bath before beauty treatment. I have discovered that beauty therapists who work near hot springs have fantastic porcelain skin, as they are able to use the hot springs everyday.

Now, however, I am in London, where I try to keep a small piece of these hot springs with me at home, by using a Ashiyu foot spa. Ashiyu is a popular beauty routine in Japan – just soak your feet in a warm water bath (38-42 degrees) for 15- 20 minutes. That will help to give you excellent blood circulation, and – as a lot of important connections to the body are in the feet – it also means you can benefit from really high quality sleep.

I have very cold feet generally, and I am using a computer for more than 8 hours every day. This does not help my blood circulation or my stiffed shoulders. So I use an ashiyu foot spa at home, maybe a couple of times a week. I put a few drops of essential oil into the warm water in the small bath, soaking my feet for 15 minutes before going to bed. I always wear a kimono dressing gown and put my kimono slippers next to the bath, so that I feel I am in a truly luxurious Oriental spa!

You can also read a relaxing novel, or have a cup of herbal tea, or put on a moisturised facemask when you are doing ashiyu. Whatever you choose to do, whether you are enjoying a beauty treatment in a beauty salon, or in a spa, or at home, you should take the chance to turn your thoughts from the trials of work to more personal pleasures. And after all, having a relaxing time and getting good quality sleep are keys for true natural beauty.