At the southern end of Kyushu lies Ibusuki, a city of 44,000 people.
The city of Ibusuki in Kagoshima Prefecture is famous for its “sand steam bath”, or “砂蒸し風呂”, where you put your body completely into the hot sand and are steamed.
It’s a very unusual way of bathing, so I thought I’d like to try an authentic sand bath when I travel to Kagoshima one day.
I was able to experience the sand steam bath and would like to introduce it in this article.
Ibusuki City in Kagoshima Prefecture is the home of sand steam baths
Saraku” in Ibusuki is famous for its sand baths
There is a hot spring facility on the coast, 1.4 km from Ibusuki Station, where you can experience a sand steam bath on a day trip called Saraku. The beach in this area has a hot underground water source which heats the sand, making it the perfect environment for a natural sand bath.
Prices and opening times
Here is a sign at the entrance showing opening hours. Saraku is open from 8:30 in the morning until 21:00 in the evening.
The price is 1100 yen for adults (600 yen for children), which includes the sand bath experience and an indoor hot spring bath.
Experience a Sand Bath
How to take a sand steam bath
As soon as you enter the building, you will see an information board in both English and Japanese.
The process of taking a sand steam bath is as follows
- Check in at the entrance
- Change into a yukata (Japanese bathrobe)
- Take a towel and go to the beach (the towel is necessary to protect your head and neck from the heat)
- Take a sand steam bath in a hut on the beach
- After the steam bath, go to the shower room to remove the sand.
- Take a bath in the hot spring
Sand steam bath souvenir towel
I paid the bathing fee at the reception and bought one of the 120 yen “砂むし温泉” towel that was on sale. Onsen towels are handy and make a great souvenir of your trip.
Where you can experience sand bath
I changed into my yukata at the changing area with lockers, and went outside with my onsen towel. There was a sign in front of me saying “砂むし温泉 (sand steam hot spring)”, so I followed the arrow.
The beach in this area has a hot spring gushing out of the waves at 85°C, which is used for sand steam baths.
As you walk down the aisle, you will see the covered sand bath spa facility.
This roofed building is an all-weather facility. When the weather is good and the tide is low, you can experience a sand steam bath on the edge of the waves.
The sand is disinfected with hot water from the spa
The outdoor facility of the sand steam bath is divided into several compartments as shown in the picture.
After being used, the compartments were, in turn, disinfected with boiling water at the source with a temperature of over 80 degrees Celsius.
Being steamed all over in front of the sea
Sand is poured on you with a shovel
When you arrive at the sand steam room, the staff will take you to a place where the sand has been dug to the size of a person’s bed.
After wrapping a towel around your head, you lie down on your back on the sand and a shovel is used to pour sand on top of you. The weight of the sand, which is hot from the hot springs, will soon warm you up.
I handed my camera to the staff and they took a picture of me with just my head sticking out of the sand.
15 minutes passed in no time!
I was worried that the sand might be too hot, as the sand bath is supposed to last 10 minutes, but I didn’t get too hot. Fifteen minutes went by quicker than I expected, as I was steamed all over while looking at the sea.
When you get out of the steam bath, you have to push the sand up by yourself. As soon as I got up, the sea breeze hit my whole body and I felt refreshed.
It wasn’t too hot as I expected, but it was a good sweat
The sand steam bath made me feel like my whole body was being shiatsued while being steamed. Once you experience it, you may become addicted to it.
I was buried slowly in the sand, feeling the sea breeze, and I worked up a good sweat. The photo taken by the staff is also a good souvenir.
If you are interested in the efficacy of the hot spring water in the sand steam bath, you can read more about it on the Saraku’s website here.
Access and parking to Sunaraku
|Access||It takes 20 minutes to walk from Ibusuki Station, or 3 minutes by car.|
|Parking||Available. There is free parking opposite the Sunaraku building.|
After the sand steam bath experience, I had lunch in Ibusuki City at the local speciality, Kaiten Somen Nagashi. You can read about it here.