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Relaxing, Friendly Professional Massage, Removing Aches and Pains

By: Stephen Carr

Date Posted: 2000-09-08

There is nothing quite like a soothing massage to relieve the stresses of the day. At Azul Mar you are shown into the anteroom of a residential house. You are asked to fill out a questionnaire detailing your age, whether you smoke or have any physical problems etc. You then choose which type of massage you want. The most popular is the body balance course, which costs ¥3000 or $30 and includes aromatherapy, cupping, vibration and body adjustment.

When the paper work is over you are given a footbath in a contraption like a divided squarish bucket that plugs into the wall. Your soles rest on a knobbed surface and warm water bubbles and swirls continuously around them. “Is it too hot?” solicitously enquires the masseuse.

Azul Mar means “Blue Sea” in Spanish, though strictly speaking it should be Mar Azul. Akemi Ishikawa, who has worked as a body therapist in Tokyo and Nagoya, says the words were changed around because it sounded better that way. She and her sister Sachie Toma run the massage house and younger sister Shima Boranos also helps out sometimes.

In answer to one of the questions on the form I said I’d had trouble sleeping. A phial is selected from many, unstoppered and passed under my nose. The strong, sweetish smell is organic lavender, it is explained and would give me a shot of energy. It also has other properties. Akemi says it is good for muscle tension, neck pains, children’s colds and warding off mosquitoes.

You are ushered into a curtained room and asked to remove all clothes except underwear. You then lie on your stomach. A large white towel is placed over you. This is then partially removed according to which part Akemi is kneading at the time. She spends a lot of time on one leg and then the other, using various oils and vigorous pressure.

The back and neck are also given the treatment, including cupping. This is the placing of small heated glass globes on the back. The vacuum created by the heat sucks the skin into the mouth of the cup and it remains firmly clamped onto the body. Several of these glasses are put in place. It feels peculiar but seems to work. A back pain I have a day before visiting Azul Mar is gone the day after.

Akemi vanishes and the soothing music and herbal aroma lulls you almost to sleep. Her sister Sachie then appeared and with a hand held device that vibrates, goes over the areas massaged by hand.

Akemi says one leg is slightly out of alignment with the other and she does some strong manipulation on it and the lower back. Lining up the feet after this maneuver, she then pronounces them properly aligned.

The final stage of the massage is a rub-down with hot towels. It removes the oil and is soothing too.

I enjoyed my massage at Azul Mar. It was professionally done, yet friendly and very relaxing and seemed to be a factor in removing some aches and pains. I would go again.

Directions: From KAB Gate 2 drive down Gate 2 Street towards the Highway 330 intersection, go down a long slope at the end of which is the Highway 329 intersection. Cross it and go straight until the third traffic light. Turn left at the light and pass through one light again. Go straight until the second yellow bus stop on the left. After this bus stop turn left and a short distance along this road is Azul Mar on the right.

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