August has come, and with it, midsummer heat. Other than moving to a colder climate, is there anything you can do, wa-style, to survive? There is, and the answer might take you by surprise: take a bath!
Onsen, Sento, and Ofuro: Japanese Love of Bathing
Taking a hot bath might sound like the last thing you want to do in the middle of summer, but if you want to get through the heat Japanese-style, warm up your core by taking “ofuro” お風呂 (a bath)! Westerners, especially Americans, are used to jumping in and out of the shower. But the Japanese love of bathing goes all the way back to the 6th century. What started as a Buddhist purification ritual became part of the common people’s culture during the Edo Period with the opening of “sento” (銭湯) or public baths. “Onsen,” hot springs, are an ever-popular vacation destination, and even at home, many Japanese take a soak every day.
If you grew up in Japan, you might remember taking “yuzu-yu” 柚子湯 (Japanese citrus bath) in the winter, but did you know there is a “yu” 湯 for every month of the year? Even in mid-summer you can take a bath to sweat, detox, and warm up your A/C-chilled core.
August is the month of “hakka-yu” (薄荷油) or mint bath.
How To Take Mint Bath
1. Steep a 30g (~1oz) mint leaf tea bag in hot water for 15 minutes
2. Transfer to your bathtub
3. Relax, refocus, and refresh!
Health Benefits of Mint Bath
Aside from its refreshing aroma, mint promotes blood circulation, is a good moisturizer, and helps sweat to dry quickly.
If you can’t quite bring yourself to take a steamy bath after sweating all day, you could try a footbath instead. And while you’re at it, why not have a cup of soothing mint tea?
For your bath time–
For your tea time–