The Amayori Sento — Japanese Culture


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An Interview with Mark Edward Harris

 We recently welcomed the addition of one of my favorite books to the Amayori store: The Way of the Japanese Bath by Mark Edward Harris. I recently had the chance to interview Mark. We discussed his inspiration as a travel photographer, his first Japanese hot spring experience, his favorite type of Japanese hot spring, and more. Here you will also find a preview of just a handful of the breathtaking photographs found in The Way of the Japanese Bath. Q: How did you get your start in travel/documentary photography? A: It grew out of a love of freezing moments in time.  The camera has the unique ability to do that and that feeling of wonder which started with seeing an...

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How to Travel When You Can’t Leave Home

IIya Vally, Japan I wanted to share some of my favorite ways to “travel” while staying safe at home. The first step is to pick a country that you would like to visit, and then follow the tips below. I’ve chosen Japan as I miss it greatly and am longing for my next trip. Travel Through Food: I tend to cook a quasi-macrobiotic/Japanese menu most nights, but when I want to make it extra-special, I try a few dishes that are a bit more traditional. For a special night, I may make pickles early that day to serve in the evening, and I make miso soup with traditional dashi stock, rice, fish, and a couple of side dishes. I also...

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Ground Yourself in the Morning

One of Japan's "Three Views", Matsushima Bay at dawn. I originally intended for this first post on grounding to be about morning meditation. Rather than that, let's step back a bit and discuss waking up in the morning. So many people are experiencing anxiety dreams due to what is going on in the world. These types of dreams can leave you feeling exhausted both physically and emotionally. By grounding ourselves from the moment we wake up, we pull in all the scattered energy produced from a night of intense dreaming. This will help you create a solid base that will last for the entire day. First, a quick lesson on the Japanese perspective on energy systems within the body (similar to...

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A Peek Inside a Japanese Bathhouse

Walk into any bathhouse in Japan, and you are sure to find the same basic things, whether you are bathing at a Tokyo sento or a remote rural onsen.  Men’s and women’s baths are almost always separated. Each side is separated by a door or a noren curtain. When you first walk in, there are lockers or baskets so that you may stow your personal belongings. Since bathing is always done in the nude, you will also need to store your clothing or yukata (a cotton kimono often worn around Japan’s hot spring towns). This storage area is usually separate from the washing area. Next is the washing area. In Japan, washing is always done before soaking and is considered...

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Ashiyu: Effortless Relaxation from Japan's Hot Spring Towns

Ashiyu are foot baths that are found in some of Japan’s hot spring town. They are beloved for their lighthearted atmosphere, as they are an easy way to enjoy Japan’s mineral-rich waters with little effort. My last trip to Japan was in mid-spring. There was still a chill in the air, especially in the more remote areas that I ventured to. Toward the end of the trip, I began to feel under the weather. Though I wanted to get into the many nearby onsen (hot spring baths), I didn’t have the energy to undress and dress again. Ashiyu became a relaxing, healing alternative. The mental and physical benefits are many and mimic those of a full-body bath. The mental benefits...

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