It is a wonderment that in the Tokyo metropolis, where dime-a-dozen skyscraping luxury hotels vie for the most vertigo-inducing swimming pools, the Four Seasons Hotel at Chinzan-so, with its classical mindedness, continues to earn accolades from its well-wooed and rested visitors. And by classical, I am referring not only to the pool at Chinzan-so being firmly on the ground, but also to the 17-acre Japanese garden comprised of a thoroughly thought-out variety of seasonal eye candy. Quintessential to its unique and undeniable charm, the garden is decorated with Cyprus trees that compete with the pagoda for the brightest red and orange in the fall, cherry blossoms that are less than shy in the spring, and in early summer, fireflies are said to give a rather stunning performance. With nature’s plenty in the comfort of your own hotel, a cool outdoor stroll around the grounds is peaceful in itself. Still, for a true Zen experience, a session at the hotel’s YU Spa is the ultimate in enlightentment.
The spa is nestled snugly among authentic natural rocks and tree fences in the garden, with hot spring water brought in from Japan’s famous Izu peninsula for the baths. Befitting the scenery, the spa offers numerous treatments, most of them inspired by Japanese rituals employing traditional ingredients. The vast list of courses is at first daunting; they run the gamut from facials and pedicures, 13 courses for men (including a jet-lag-busting treatment with a sesame scrub), and several for mothers-to-be.
I decided upon the “Ginger Rhizome,” which entailed a smoothing ginger body scrub with papaya extracts, followed by a warm ginger compress, topped off by an aroma massage made with the essential oils of bay leaf, ginger, and ylang ylang. While YU Spa uses Elemis and Aromatherapy Associates products, the potions created for the treatments are original. My masseuse took special care to work on my end-of-year deadlines and stress knots with a thorough pressure massage.
Aside from ginger, there are black sesame, green tea and wasabi treatments available, with the latter being quite popular for its firming and detoxifying effects — the pinch of wasabi on sushi is there for its antibacterial quality as much as its zing.
I had heard rumours about a certain “special” ritual course available at the spa, one that entailed fire-walking and water rebirthing. When I asked my masseuse about it she chuckled and led me into an enormous room where the “Yusui Fire and Water Purification” course is given.
The “ritual” consists of a candlelight massage and five-grain body-wrap (“fire”), and a sake and salt polish that is washed off with Vichy showers, reminiscent of the Buddhist monk tradition during which one meditates under waterfalls (“water”).
My own 120-minute spiritual course left me feeling uncommonly revitalized. I am already making plans to partake in a quick 60-minute seaweed facial sometime in the future, or perhaps a sake clay cocoon, or, should my spirit demand it, the purification course.
Any treatment, topped off with a sip of green tea in the hotel’s magnificent gardens, is enough to unwind the tightest of bodies, and calm the most restless of minds.
With a plethora of treatments for gentlemen to choose from, FILLER has narrowed the selection down to YU Spa’s top three not-to-be-missed signature offerings:
A warming ritual that starts with a ginger polish and papaya extract to smooth the skin, then glides into a warm compress and relaxing aromatherapy massage.
YU Alpha Male Bliss Massage
Two therapists work in perfect harmony with warmed signature essential oils, easing tension using traditional rhythmic Asian and Balinese techniques.
Ultimate Jet Lag
Relax the mind and body after a long flight with a black sesame and honey exfoliation, followed by a fusion massage with essential oils.