While in Melbourne Liz and I are staying with our friend Ruth, and its her birthday. We decide to invite her to join us at The Japanese Bath House for an afternoon of pampering. It’s a great winter thing to do, and I really miss not having a bath at home – the idea of passing a gentle afternoon with friends soaking in a hot bath and sauna sounds like a treat for her and us.
We find our way (you will definitely need a map!) to 59 Cromwell St in Collingwood. Signs warn us that this is NOT a place with a sexual focus, clearly some have overstepped the mark here. We are gently welcomed, our shoes are removed and stored, and we are handled towels, robes and exfoliating cloth and shown the way to the women’s side of the bath house. As newbies, we are given an idea of what to do with ourselves as we navigate showers, bath and sauna.
While it is liberating to be naked in public, it does take some getting used to, and we each get into our zone of dealing with our feelings about this, as we disrobe. Clothes and towels left behind, we got to the shower area where we sit and wash and scrub off old skin before stepping into the huge tile bath. It is delicious.
Although we have gone together, it turns out to be essentially a solitary experience, as we each find our zone of reflection. I head off to the sauna for a session there – detoxing in the steam. My shower after this is when I seriously get the exfoliating cloth going, and strips of dead skin start peeling off.
I am starting to get into the rhythm here.
Heat, Sit, Scrub. Heat, Sit, Scrub. Heat, Sit, Scrub.
I feel like a new born baby and so does my skin. I don my traditional robes to sit in the Tatami Lounge and have a Japanese tea, while I wait for my friends to finish. Others come and go – for some it is clearly a regular trip, and if I lived nearby it would certainly be a regular winter visit for me – what a way to scrape off the detritus of a busy week and take on the mantle of relaxation and change of pace.
I had experienced a Turkish Hamman while I was in Marrakech, Morocco with Venus Adventures (story here), and I was keen to compare it with a Japanese Bath House experience. What the experiences shared in common was the edge most of us usually have about taking off our clothes in public. The Japanese bathhouse was more restrained, and elegant with less giggling and we scoured our dead skin off ourselves! They were both fantasic, though I would like to try some others like an Ethiopian Smoke:
For a story about a hilarious Ethiopian spa (or should I say smoke) treatment click here
Shiatsu is also available, maybe next time… to book phone +61 3 9419 0268
The Japanese Bath House
We finished the afternoon off back in Brunswick St Fitzroy with Spanish hot chocolate and churros donuts dipped in chocolate – a perfect end to the day.