Japanese Spring in Asheville

March 12, 2019

Shoji Spa & Lodge

Ahhhhh…. We can feel spring time approaching, with the slight scent of blooming in the wind as the cool breeze sweeps what is left of the previous autumn’s leaves. In two weeks, it will officially be Springtime here in Asheville. And at Shoji, we love and respect Spring (Haru) as much as Japan does. So, what does Springtime mean to Japanese culture?

Japan has a rather short Spring season, beginning in late March and ending in late April. During that short time, the Japanese celebrate the harmony between humans and nature with picnics under the Cherry Blossoms and countless festivals. Being an agricultural country, and since agriculture is controlled by the seasons, Japan is characterized by the leisurely change of the seasons. “In contrast to the Westerners who fight with and conquer nature, the Japanese live in harmony with nature and desire to become one with it.” This respect for and celebration of nature is most aesthetically prominent during the most beautiful time of year: Spring! And in Japan, that aesthetic comes from the beautiful and momentary blooming of the Cherry Blossoms, or Sakura.

For just a couple weeks out of the year, typically between March and April, these beautiful, vivid magenta flowers cover the landscape of Japan like a pink umbrella. The flowers symbolize a beautiful innocence during a seasonal representation of renewal and growth that has become almost internationally and inherently recognized by other cultures.

The Haiku, which has become an globally recognized form of poetry, is rooted in Japan’s oneness with nature, and more often than not is representing of Spring time.

The cherry blossoms:
Being ill, how many things
I remember about them

Scatter layer
by layer, eight-layered
cherry blossoms

Moon at twilight
a cluster of petals falling
from the cherry tree

cherry blossom petals
blown by the spring breeze against
the undried wall

  • Masaoka Shiki

Asheville may not have thousands of cherry blossoms, but the region does celebrate the blooming of spring with the beautiful pink hues of the rhododendron. Asheville also has a spiritual sense of harmony between humans and nature. Here at Shoji, we celebrate Spring by immersing you into the spiritual nature of the Blue Ridge Mountains and sharing that experience with those individuals that can feel the season’s power as much as the Japanese people have for centuries.

Beautiful flowers of rhododendron. Closeup

Four Fabulous Health Benefits of Hot Tubs

Hot tubs have this magical way of making us feel immediately more at ease. Our breathing deepens, our muscles loosen up and we let our troubles dissolve away. It’s not all in our heads either… taking a soak has been proven to have quite a few health benefits. Here’s four of them!


1. Lowering blood pressure

plastic heart display

According to the Cleveland Clinic, a hot tub soak causes blood vessels to slightly dilate, thus lowering overall blood pressure. Soaking in warm water can cause internal body temperature to increase slightly, in turn blood circulates more efficiently and blood pressure decreases. As always, consult with your physician before engaging in any form of self-therapy, including hot tub use and hydrotherapy for high blood pressure.


2. A better night’s sleep

baby sleeping

A Study in the journal, ‘Sleep,’ showed that soaking in a hot tub prior to bedtime will not only help individuals fall asleep but will also provide a deeper, more relaxing sleep as the body cools.


3. Aid in weight loss

bubbly hot tub water

It’s estimated that sitting in hot water burns about 3% more calories than sitting on your couch. It may not seem like much but, let’s be honest, every bit helps when it comes to losing weight!


4. Ease muscle tension

tight knot

Any physical therapist will tell you that heat from water penetrates the body better than any other type of heat. While heat increases blood flow to muscles and accelerates healing, buoyancy eases the built up pressure in your joints and muscles.  Additionally, hot tub jets provide therapeutic massage, stimulating the release of endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain and stress diffusers.


man relaxing in outdoor hot tub in asheville

Which benefit will inspire you to hit the tub? If you are interested in learning more about other health benefits of tub soaking, spa therapy, or sauna, subscribe to our monthly newsletter or follow Shoji Spa on social media!

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What is Hydrotherapy?

The Benefits of a Long Soak
(Medical and Otherwise) By Roberta Jordan

When I was six, I loved to soak in a huge old bathtub for hours, especially in the dead of winter.Then, only under duress, I would emerge, leaving my yellow duckie to bob about while I sank into slumber. What happened to one of the best rituals of life? One of life’s little pleasures, delicious and almost free, a ritual full of things I so need in my stress filled adult life.
Back then, I soaked in a tub because it left me feeling wonderful. I knew nothing of the Japanese passion for soaking, or that the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates promoted the healthful effects of bathing, or the German’s Nineteenth Century studies into the benefits of hydrotherapy, or that this universal fad would finally start to catch on here in my own country, long before I made my self-discovery. 
No one knows for sure just how profound the health benefits of hydrotherapy are (also known as balneotherapy), probably because the cultures who indulge the most are the least concerned with the science of the act and focused instead on the ritual and simple trust of knowing how good they feel during and after the pleasures of a long hot soak.Western culture asks for proof of the benefits (“Show me”), and to this end, let’s look at some of the data that documents what the Greeks, Romans, and Japanese have known fora thousand plus years, that soaking offers a feeling of physical well-being, relieves the pain of physical wounds or aching muscles, calms the mind, and nourishes the spirit…that the spirit of soaking transcends the act of getting clean.
A look at the data through randomized single and double blind controlled studies from around the world documents medical improvements in patients with low back pain, spasticity, improved range of motion, benefits for ventilated patients, psychological and emotional improvements, improvements with varicose veins, quality of life improvements, and a cadre of other physical gains and self reported psychological benefits.
Studies ranging in size from thirty to two thousand five hundred subjects document the benefits of hydrotherapy and suggest that it is a valuable adjunct to other forms of physical and drug treatments. Some studies even note a reduction in the need for other therapies. The addition of hydrotherapy to a rehabilitation program is repeatedly shown to be advantageous. Studies also document that mineral water, used instead of tap water,can heighten the longevity of beneficial effects. These studies document what has been known or assumed since humans began the ritual of plopping into geothermal springs only to discover relief of some sort. That said, we are not all living with the luxury of volcanic (or geothermal) springs at our back door, but we can enjoy various other types of spas.
Hydrotherapy (or balenotherapy) is the use of water in various states and temperatures to maintain health and promote healing. Steam, ice, hot, tepid, and cold water are all used in a number of ways alone or as part of a therapeutic regimen. For example, ice is applied toa sprained ankle or sore muscles are soothed by soaking in a hot tub. Most forms of hydrotherapy have become accepted remedies. Many are universally prescribed by both conventional and alternative health practitioners.The basic properties of water allow this nontoxic and readily available substance to be used in numerous ways. Hydrotherapy takes advantage of water’s unique ability to store and transmit both cold and heat. Cold has a “depressant” affect, decreasing normal activity, constricting blood vessels, numbing nerves, and slowing respiration. Heat-based hydrotherapies, such as hot tubs, have the opposite effect. As the body attempts to throw off excess heat and keep the body temperature from rising, dilation of blood vessels occurs, providing increased circulation.
Contrast therapies, such as immersing in hot and then cold water, are used to dramatically stimulate circulation. For example, a thirty minute contrast bath beginning with soaking for four minutes in a hot tub and then dropping into a cold plunge for one minute,repeated for a total of thirty minutes, can produce a 95 percent increase in blood flow. If you are looking for a natural high, this may be it!Water-based therapies in spas are currently used throughout conventional,complementary, and alternative medicine. Hydrotherapy itself is used by almost all physical therapy centers. Numerous techniques using water are considered standard methods of treatment for rehabilitation and pain relief, including exercise in hydrotherapy pools, whirlpool baths, and swimming pools. These standard techniques are now being combined with treatments such as Watsu (water Shiatsu, a massage while being held in the water).
Clinical benefits aside, westerners are catching onto the secret that the ritual of a long luxurious bath or soak offers a multitude of special pleasures.Instead of racing to the shower to get clean to go out for the night, the shower can be a prelude to an evening soak. Another distinction between Eastern and Western bathing rituals: in the Japanese culture, one would never enter a tub dirty. Their idea is to get clean, then soak the soul. Westerners regretfully soak in their wash water (making us want to get in and out), which fact might explain why we see bathing as a means to an end. But once we adapt to the separateness of the two experiences, washing versus soaking, both seem more enticing. The West may never convert to the ritual of sitting down on a stool to scrub prior to soaking, but we might accept the separation of the two acts.So treat yourself and your loved ones to the time-revered pleasure of a hot tub soak. Your body and your soul won’t regret it!
Roberta Jordan has a Master’s degree in rehabilitation administration from the University of San Francisco. Roberta and Carl Mott own Shoji Spa, a new Japanese style outdoor hot tub day spa in Asheville, which offers contrast therapies including sauna,cold plunge, private hot tubs, and massage therapy. They can be reached at 828-299-0999 or www.shojiretreats.com.

Lavender Chai Tea Recipe

In celebration of our new Autumn Escapes Package & the approaching fall season we’re sharing this delicious Lavender Chai Tea recipe. The spice of cloves, ginger, and other spices mixed with the floral notes of lavender make this tea a delight for the senses!

Lavender Chai Tea 

Ingredients

    • 3 1/4 cups water
    • 3 black tea bags or 3 tablespoons loose
    • 1 large or 2 small cinnamon sticks
    • 8 whole cloves
    • 6 peppercorns
    • 1 teaspoon culinary lavender
    • 1/4 teaspoon dried ginger or 1/2 inch piece fresh, sliced (optional)
    • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom or 3 whole pods, lightly crushed (optional)
    • dash of nutmeg
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Bring 3 cups water to a boil, add tea, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns, lavender, ginger, cardamom and nutmeg, turn heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn of heat and let cool 10 minutes. Remove tea bags. Add vanilla and maple syrup, give a good stir. Strain out the large ingredients and place in container of choice.In a glass or mug/cup, pour tea concentrate to about 1/3 – 1/2 full, fill remaining with water or milk.

Serve warm or iced.

Store leftover tea in the refrigerator, use within one week.

Makes about 4 – 6 servings.

Recipe courtesy of The Simple Veganista

World Bathing Day 2018

The first -ever World Bathing Day – an international celebration of bathing cultures – is set to take place on 22 June. The idea has been spearheaded by professor Marc Cohen of RMIT University in Australia, and Charles Davidson, founder of Peninsula Hot Springs in Australia.

While the event’s genesis may have been in Australia, its reach is global; hot springs locations around the world will offer special events in celebration of the day, and many are also donating money to charitable causes with a focus on clean water.

Wilbur Hot Springs in Northern California is honouring the day with music and fundraising to benefit water.org. From 1-22 June, the hotel is donating 10 per cent of room revenue to the charitable organisation, which helps provide safe water and sanitation to those in need.

At Peninsula Hot Springs, a full day of storytelling and bathing activities will begin with a spiritual sunrise ceremony at the Hilltop Pool, and will also include water exercise classes, a body clay workshop, forest bathing walk, sound meditation and a sunset ceremony.

Participating thermal springs are asked to use the hashtag #worldbathingday to share photos of their celebrations.

With 844 million people – 1 in 9 worldwide – lacking access to safe water, hot springs leaders are also looking to move beyond fundraising, to petition the United Nations to formally recognise a World Bathing Day or International Day of Bathing.

“Bathing is an enjoyable, peaceful, social, multicultural and multigenerational activity that forms a common link across diverse cultural, spiritual and religions traditions, and plays a critical role in ensuring good health, dignity, confidence and comfort,” the petition states.

It also focuses on the importance of bathing for sanitary practices, and states that the day hopes to draw attention to the plight of the people for whom bathing is not yet an option, and those who lack access to sufficient drinking water.

“Access to water has a major impact on the health and future prospects of the world’s poor,” the petition states. “Every day nearly 1000 children die from water-related disease and women and girls spend 200 million hours simply gathering water. To them, water is time, education and hope.”

Original Post in Spa Business