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I never knew that raising body temperature makes body feel like a feather. On the way home from the Okinawan Ocean Water Thermal Institute (“Kaisui Onnetsu Kenkyujo” in original Japanese), I walked feeling warm inside and light like I was 10 years younger in the otherwise very cold Tokyo. Feeling also the burning sensation that I went through for a good one hour. It was a hellish pain, but definitely worth every heat and yen. Steamed Towel Theraphy with Okinawas Ocean Water.

The Okinawan Ocean Water Thermal Institute is all about warming what’s inside – the organs.

The practitioners there all believe that our body has its natural healing power. The main goal of their treatment is to help us improve that power. But here is the catch with their method – it’s damn hot! It was like burning hot on my whole body, but the practitioner will take off the steaming towels off as you scream, “HOOOOT!” I can’t believe the guy in the video below is not screaming.

They use the method that was first developed by its founder Tomio Kakasu in Okinawa, Japan (the practitioner in the video). The procedure is quite simple – the towels are steamed in ocean water from Okinawa and they repeatedly apply the towels to different parts of our body. It starts with your feet, and all the way up to the top of your head. The method is based on the fundamental idea that raising your body temperature improves our immunity and internal healing power.

Keep in mind, though that it’s not a massage nor an acupuncture. It’s just hot towels steamed in the special ocean water from the Sesoko Island , you and your practitioner. No oil. No tiger balm. Definitely no clay pack or salt. There are heaps of salt from the ocean water after steaming, but I forgot to ask my therapist, Watanabe san, what she’d do with them.

According to Watanabe san, if you can raise your body temperature, you don’t even have to worry so much about all other things. As long as your organs are warm and functioning well, your body is capable of flushing out all not-so-good-stuff you eat or drink.

In the beginning of the session, I lay down with my face down. Watanabe san started the session by saying, “the temperature of the towels is the same, but some parts of your body will feel hotter than others. I will be asking you a question where you feel the most heat as I work on your body from your toes up to your head.” Apparently some people do not feel hot at all in certain parts of their body. But what it means vary depending on which part feels hot or nothing.

When it was too hot, said Watanabe san, all I had to do was to say “too hot!” and she would remove the towels for a few seconds. But I thought, “How hot could it be? It’s just a steamed towel, like the ones at restaurants.” And I knew I was wrong as soon as she put the first steamed towel on the sole of my feet. My first scream “HOOOOT” in the first few minutes into the session. If you think I was a wuss, you just have to give it a try.

My screaming stopped as she worked on the back of my thighs, but I started screaming again as she got to my back. The rest of the session was filled with screams, with trickling tears, and laughters – it was so painful that I had to laugh. I was amazed to hear that there is no a single client who was actually burnt by the heat.

Screaming customer (Source:

Screaming customer (Source:

Your first reward comes when you are asked to change your position in the middle of the session. As I got up slightly and lay with my face up, my body felt so much lighter! This feeling of lightness was even greater as I was asked to sit on the massage table at the end of the session.

Watanabe san said that the part of body that the practitioners focus most on is the stomach. In fact I think she spent most time on my stomach, explaining which organ works for what and what happens if the organs are ‘cold’. I really appreciated that she was so thoroughly knowledgeable about body functions and she sounded like a medical doctor.

Their clients come with all sorts of problems such as stiff shoulders, bad back, arthritis, old inquiries, constipation, light sleep, anxiety, migraine or even cancer. It’s not a medical practice and they will never tell you that you will be ‘healed’.

During my session, Watanabe san said that the only change she asks her clients to make is to have a hanshin (half body) yoku (bath) or hip bath as often as they can. Never sink in the hot water up to your heart, she continues, as this will make you feel tired. 40 to 41 degrees is the best temperature for a hip bath in the evening (but not too late at night) and if you could take a hip bath in the morning, it could be warmer.

We laughed together as I told her, “The Japanese say a morning bath is a luxurious. So I always feel guilty doing so (lol)”.

Hot Healing without a Frill

Is a day hip bath luxurious?

When the session almost ended, I was told to sit up on the massage table. I felt like a baby as I raised my arms, moved my head and stretched my back. She gave me a glass of lukewarm water and it tasted so delicious, although it was just regular bottled water, apparently.

“You feel light, smell and taste better, and you can even see things more clearly.”

As I began to make payment, she said, “the only thing I really recommend is the hip bath. Do it twice a day if you could, if not, everyday.”

I actually thought that she would start telling me to come back for more sessions in the future. But no. She told me to take a bath everyday.

You don’t have to be pushy when you sell quality stuff – the founder had run his clinic in Okinawa for the first 18 years without any advertisement. His method and treatment spread through the word of mouth there and now there are eight branches in the Kanto region in addition to the headquarter in Okinawa.

I’m definitely going back there with my mother and my husband – they will be surely screaming their lungs out.