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By: Jun Iha

Date Posted: 2006-08-25

These days, I guess that you’ve seen a flag or banner, printed in Kanji “岩盤浴”, hung on fences on off-base roads when you drive. The Kanji-sign “岩盤浴” pronounced “Gan-Ban-Yoku,” means “Stone-Spa” or “Stone Sauna”.

On Okinawa, the stone-spa is rapidly gaining popularity among locals as a new method for health care. Ganbanyoku is a sauna-like bath, as it heats your body deeply inside and makes you drip with sweat. The Japanese word “Ganban” means “rock”. The Ganban used at stone-spa parlors contains a lot of minerals and emits far-infrared ray. At such places, the rock is heated up to about 40c (105F) and you spread a towel and lie on the rock for 15 minutes. After taking a break for 5 to 10 minutes, you will repeat the same set for 3~4 times.

In the process, your body will be dripping and dripping with sweat. Ganbanyoku works mainly for activating metabolism(→Diet), good blood circulation, detoxification, and relieving stress. “Stone-Spa looks similar to the conventional sauna bath.”

Ms. Mika Uehara, the owner of Thai Med says. “But if you come to my place and try, you will feel the difference. The calm, Asian atmosphere leads to tranquility, because of far-infrared rays emitted from the rocks, you will feel the body heat-up inside. The sauna-bath heats you up as well, but only the surface. After taking Stone-Spa, you recognize your body as being still warm for a couple of hours.”

“That’s why we do not call this sauna,” Ms. Uehara adds. She has many local customers who visit 3 or 4 times a week to take stone-bath. One of them says, “I come here. I would say, “it’s same as just taking a bath to me.”

People who should NOT try Stone-Spa are those with: cardiac problems or high blood pressure, or after drinking alcohol.

Thai Med is strictly for women, and offers a 90-minute Stone-Spa for ¥1,350, as well as two shorter versions. A Lymphatic Massage is ¥5,250, while Aromatherapy Massage is ¥7,350 for an hour. Thai Med hours are 10am~9pm for Stone Spa and other services, while the retail store remains open until 11pm.

Thai Med is located in Ginowan Isa, near Camp Foster. From Foster Commissary Gate: Turn left onto Route 58 after passing the gate. Continue driving south and turn right at the second traffic light. Soon, you will see the building where Thai Med is located on the second floor.

Further details are available by calling 098-897-7270 or 090-4471-9087.

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