The Hoshinoya Spa, a Japanese hideaway where nobody will find you until you look fabulous again.
Much as we love a spa situated in a tropical paradise, when one can find an Indian massage ritual in every city, its time to explore a more unique spa treatment that can’t be found outside of its original location.
Hot springs or onsens have been recognised in Japan for over a century for their superior qualities at reliving fatigue and ensuring beautiful skin. The new Hoshinoya luxury spa in Nagano, Japan offers a wonderful selection of treatments that utilize the power of hot springs in order to release both mind and body from stress in breathtaking surroundings.
Located 1,000 metres above sea level and nestled amidst the natural environment of Mount Asama, the area is blessed with pristine air, clear running streams and a dense forest. The spa is not only exceptional in its setting but also prudently embraces its unique Japanese culture in a country that often prefers to look elsewhere for its inspiration. Guests rooms dotted along the river conjure up villages of old Japan with requisite modern touches such as heated flooring in an area that has been appreciated by locals for its healing powers since 1914.
The spa offers two truly inimitable facilities. The first is the Tombo-no-yu hot springs set in spacious indoor and outdoor baths and a meditation bath designed to immerse oneself in well, meditation. Both springs are serviced with natural spring water. This alone would be enough to smooth our shattered nerves, but the pristine air of Karuizawa and its vast range of spa treatments will guarantee you find yourself again amongst the rice terraces.
The spa’s mantra works on two main principles – the Japanese therapeutic bath or Toji designed to revive stress and promote relaxation in a beautiful natural environment and secondly the Zen concept of rejuvenation through holistic treatments in luxurious settings.
The spa offers a comprehensive range of new therapeutic Japanese treatments to soothe and restore your body. Oil treatments are used for winding down and relaxing. For example the Kan is a complete body and facial treatment of eighty minutes that starts with a truly relaxing yet revitalizing deep cleansing facial using Hoshino’s thermal water designed to rebalance and refresh the skin, followed by a gentle oil treatment, and a thermal mud mask applied to your back that is designed to cleanse impurities. The Dan is a truly exclusive stone massage with a body oil treatment that utilizes specially selected Basalt and black volcanic rocks from Mt. Asama.
Additionally there are Shiatsu, Har or Onkyi treatments designed to offer a curative influence on healing tiredness or pain. Shiatsu is a traditional Japanese hands-on therapy. The therapist Katsuyuki Funada has twenty years experience and uses unique techniques to leave one’s body feeling relaxed and revitalized. There are complete body and face treatments that are so specific they refer to guests with tired eyes, irregular teeth or fatigued facial expression. Lastly, the usual oriental relaxing massages are also available and recommended for those who lack physical exercise.
In a traditional ryokan or guesthouse environment the food can often be, how shall we put it a little daunting after a few days. The Hoshinoya spa is sensitive to this and so offers both authentic and casual Japanese dining as well as a relaxed French menu in addition to room service. A thoughtful extra are the lacquered lunchboxes that arrive filled with traditional Japanese favourites such as dainty rice balls and hand-rolled sushi. Breakfast can be taken over rice terraces and all menus are seasonal.
Other perceptive facilities at Hoshinoya are its library lounge, a quiet area for some relaxing reading time stocked with interesting books that you always wanted to read but never got around to. CDs are available for you to take back to your room and wireless Internet access is also available should you be completely mad enough to need it. A traditional teahouse or chaya can be used for morning stretches or to sit back and relax with a cold drink and enjoy the refreshing breeze blowing through the chaya in summer.
Guest rooms are designed for sheer comfort and set alongside a gurgling riverbank. All villas incorporate a traditional Japan design with guests able to enjoy nature right on their doorstep. Each has a unique character, one with varying views of rivers or mountains. Exclusive award winning eco-tours provide guests with the opportunity to enjoy the local nature.
The spa is located approximately two hours from Narita airport by train (a limousine service or helicopter can be arranged). Each season offers a different visit but we’re personally in love with the thought of winter, snow covered hills, underground heating and steam rising from its hot springs.
Source & Photo Credit: Hoshinoya Spa, Japan