My Unforgettable Experience About Nudity and Being Buried Alive in a Hot Sand in Ibusuki, Japan!

Calm down, folks, no nude photos here!😀 It was spring in Japan, which means the weather was pretty cool when we went to Ibusuki, a quiet city located in Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan. We planned to try their famous SUNAMUSHI, or HOT SAND BATHING, one of Japan's most unique and unusual spa getaways. This steamed sand bath is said to get rid of toxins (opening the pores, improving circulation, and increasing blood oxygen levels). The sand is naturally heated by volcanic steam, warming the sands to 50-55 degrees Celsius. There are several resorts along the coastline where you can experience sand bathing in Ibusuki.

To experience a steamed sand bath, first, you need to buy a ticket at the registration counter. Then you'll be provided by the resort a yukata (Japanese robe), a small towel and a wristband/locker key. You need to change and must take off all your underwear and wear only a light cotton yukata. Men and women have separate locker rooms. My biggest shock arrived when I went to my designated place. As I swung open the communal women's locker room door, I found the area full of women of all ages, some stripping down, some were stark naked primping themselves, and some were like nude ramp models walking around as if they were alone. Goodness, I can't get over my initial shock! I couldn't even look at them straight. I was so embarrassed. Pardon me, people I grew up with a conservative family, culture, and religion that frowns on nudity and sexual expression. However, I know about Japanese and Korean spas and getting naked and all, as I've been a long avid fan of their films and variety shows even before they became globally famous. I'm not new to this. But as a first-timer and seeing a lot of naked bodies, in reality, was entirely a different story. It was a whole lot to take in. I felt like having a heart attack!

The Communal Women's Locker Room (I've waited to take this photo when a few people were around.)
 Undressing and changing my clothes around people was another story. I was particularly cautious and anxious to move. And feeling Superman at the same time using my telescopic and microscopic vision around me, thinking that someone might be gazing at me, or it might have mini spy hidden cameras mounted on the walls. Goodness me! Different scenarios wreaked havoc on my mind.


Moving on, HB and I met up outside. He was already wearing his yukata. We put on the beach slippers from the resort and proceeded to the appointed sand bathing hall on the beach. An attendant told us to lie down in the sandpit and protect our faces with a towel. He started shoveling the warm sand over us until we were buried up to our necks in the black sand, with only our heads exposed to the air. Everyone was relaxed. Until the woman near me made a weird sound, more like a moaning kind of sound. If you close your eyes, you might think there's something hanky panky going on. And I was like, "What is happening to her?" 
And then a male voice started saying in Japanese, "Ah, Kimochi, Kimochi," meaning it feels good. Oh my, this is getting weirder! Anyway, after 5 minutes, she got up and told her pal that she couldn't take the heat of the sand anymore. Ah, so that explains the moaning sound. hahaha... She felt uncomfortable already. As for HB and me, the heat was at a mild temperature. We even wanted to stay more. But the allotted time given to bathers was only 10 minutes because prolonged soak may cause a low-temperature burn and dizzy feeling. Our body gets warmed to the very core, so heavy sweating and sweat-soaked clothing were a given. But after that, it was refreshing!


Afterward, we headed inside to the gender-separate hot spring baths to rinse off the sand. But a female attendant told me to take off my robe and leave it on a laundry basket before entering the communal female washroom. Oh no, not again! I had to be completely naked! Anyway, after a few negotiations (yes, negotiation because at that time it felt like a life-and-death situation) with the staff who hardly speaks English and who kept on telling me to undress. To make the story short, I was able to avoid it. I told her "My religion does not permit me!". And she said, "Ah, Religion." And in my mind, "Praise the Lord, she understands the word religion!" However, when I entered the locker room, I must admit some guests were completely surprised when they saw me still wearing my yukata (robe).
So, folks, if you're planning to try the Hot Sand Bathing and it's your first time, always remember getting naked is NON-NEGOTIABLE unless you'll get lucky to avoid it just like me!Animated reaction of a winking emoticon.Despite the crucial situation, I thought the overall Ibusuki sand bathing experience was fantastic!
Please note that women are not allowed to use the Sand Bath during menstruation or while pregnant.

Watch a short clip below, or on YouTube:


BUSUKI SUNAMUSHI ONSEN Natural Sand Bath “SARAKU” 〒891-0406
5-25-18, Yunohama, Ibusuki-shi, Kagoshima, 891-0406, Japan


Toodles, until next time,
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AN ASIAN TRAVELER, Exploring Asia!