Japanese bathtub recipes to keep you warm this winter
TOKYO —As you may know, people in Japan are pretty serious about their baths. Not only have they developed an entire bathing culture, there is also a general belief that the contents of the bath can have strong physiological effects. This naturally includes the various different minerals that appear in hot springs, but also encompasses the bath salts, bubble bath, essential oils, fruits, vegetables, and whatever else goes in the bath at home.
Now that the colder weather is upon us, we thought we’d share some of the body-warming, circulation-improving bath add-ins popular in Japan.
Ginger is said to increase appetite, protect against colds, and be a mild sterilizer. Fans say that a ginger bath keeps them warmer longer than a regular one and that the strong aroma clears their head.
Recipe: Remove the skin from fresh ginger and cut off some thin slices. Put these slices in a tea bag or something similar. Add to a hot bath and let it sit for 10 minutes. Ginger can overstimulate sensitive skin, so it’s best to start with a small amount and add more later.
Kombu is a type of kelp commonly used in Japanese cooking for making stock. But it can also be used to give your bath some extra flavor. Kombu contains amino acids and minerals that are supposed to be good moisturizers and protection against winter-chapped skin. Says a fan, “You’ll feel like you are in a pot of soup!”
Recipe: Cut one sheet of dried kombu into 5cm strips and boil them in a pot of water for a few minute. Pluck out the kombu strips and add the water to your bath.
Yuzu is a smallish Asian citrus fruit, kind of like a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. They have a pleasant citrus aroma and are said to promote circulation and reduce sensitivity to cold, making them a very popular winter bath add-in. In fact, taking a yuzu bath on the winter solstice is a common tradition. The citric acid and vitamin C in the peel is also supposed to be good for your skin.
Recipe: This one’s easy. Just throw a few in the bath as is.
Also in the citrus family, we have the mikan orange. Not only are they delicious, they are said to prevent dangerous drops in body temperature. A bath raises your body temperature and adding mikan to the mix is said to keep that temperature up longer, allowing your temperature to slowly return to normal rather than dropping off sharply when you step from the bath into the cold air (traditionally, bathrooms are not heated in Japan).
Recipe: After eating your mikan, tear the peel into little strips for drying. You can do this by putting them outside in the sun for a week or by microwaving them on a paper towel for about two minutes. Tie up the peel from 3-5 mikans in a piece of cloth or handkerchief and add this to the bath.
You may not want to try this one if you are expecting anyone to cuddle with you afterwards, but garlic is supposed to be good for blood circulation, making it good for beating the chills. It’s also said to relieve nerve pain and be good for the skin.
Recipe: Put one bulb of peeled, raw garlic in a tea sac or similar bag and add to the bath. If the smell is too much for you, add a slice of lemon.
OK, this one might be less about the health benefits and more about promoting the annual release of Beaujolais Nouveau in Novemeber, but the Yunessun resort in Hakone holds a wine bath every year that is very popular among Japanese and quirky-Japanese-experience-seeking tourists. Supposedly, red wine is good for your skin and this recipe is easily recreated at home.
Recipe: Dump some red wine in your bath. Or drink it. That works too.