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I tried a Japanese hot sand bath to help ease my stress

  • SoJo Spa Club in Edgewater, New Jersey, offers a communal, warm-sand-bathing experience that uses volcanic sand from Ibusuki, Japan.
  • It is said that the alkalinity of the sand helps to detoxify your body, ease stress, improve digestion, and calm inflammation.
  • Insider producer Medha Imam visited SoJo Spa Club to learn more about the treatment and try it for herself.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The following is a transcription of the video: 

Medha: Hey, I’m Medha, and today I’m headed to SoJo Spa Club in Edgewater, New Jersey, to try a Japanese volcanic sand bath. SoJo Spa is the only spa in the world outside of Japan to use authentic sand directly from Ibusuki, and they really try to replicate the experience by the traditional cotton robe that they give you to wear, and they literally rake you over with the sand in a communal-like sandbox setup. Now, I’m excited to go try out this bath and learn a little bit more about the history and its benefits.

Esther Cha: The volcanic sand bath is an experience that you can add on to your day at SoJo Spa Club where you get covered in authentic Japanese volcanic sand. You relax in it for 10 to 15 minutes to get a supercharged sauna experience.

Medha: At the original site for the treatment, activity from Sakurajima volcano heats underground water, which creates the steam that heats Ibusuki’s beaches. SoJo Spa Club is the only spa outside of Japan to use Ibusuki’s special sand in a bathing treatment. It replicates the 300-year-old Ibusuki bathing tradition by evenly heating a sandbox-like enclosement. The first step in the treatment is changing into a traditional Japanese yukata, or cotton robe. When you enter the sandbox, you’ll be escorted to a sand plot, where your bathing experience will take place. To ensure the sand is pristine, SoJo Spa Club allows only one sandbox to be used at a time. The other is cleaned by submerging the sand in very hot water. Next up is a 10- to 15-minute nap, which I was definitely excited for. Sand bathing is thought to have benefits like improving blood circulation, improving metabolism, and easing pain. Hakusuikan Spa, which offers the sand-bathing experience in Ibusuki, says the experience is detoxifying because of two things: first, the sweat released when buried beneath the hot sand, and second, the alkalinity of the sand and water, which is said to have cleansing properties. And detoxification is also burdened with lots of controversy since only a small amount of toxins are excreted through sweat. Still, people travel from all parts of the world to soak in Ibusuki sand. I feel so warm. I feel like someone’s giving me a big, big hug. It does remind me of a sauna. There’s less steam involved, obviously, from the sand, but I feel like it feels better because there’s, like, a big hug that’s surrounding me with the sand. Breaking free from the sand has a few steps. This way. [laughs] I feel like a grandma getting up. Wow! I just felt, like, all of this weight leave me. I feel immensely lighter. As soon as I broke my hands from the sand and my feet as well, I just, my body felt very, very relaxed, and I felt, like, very floaty. [laughs] And I’m someone who gets really, really stressed out all the time, so it was amazing that this one treatment actually was able to relax me. I am not the best with massages or anything like that, so this was very, very helpful in terms of relaxing.

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