A sauna is a small room within which there are heated stones. Water is poured on these stones in order to generate steam. The resulting steam raises the body temperature of the room’s occupants so that they start to perspire excessively. The birthplace of the sauna is reputed to be Finland. In Japan, ‘dry sauna’ rooms with dry heat facilities are the norm. However, some Japanese ‘onsen’ (hot springs) offer steam facilities utilising the steam from the hot springs themselves, while others use aromatic scented waters. Still others offer a steam/mist shower wherein the mist generates the high temperatures necessary for a ‘mist sauna’.
How to Use a Sauna
In Japan, sauna facilities are often available at hot spring establishments or at public baths. The majority of Japanese bathing houses are segregated by gender so there are sauna facilities within each section. It is common for these saunas to cater to either several people or dozens of people simultaneously.
Seeing as saunas are places where perspiration occurs, social etiquette dictates that you wash yourself thoroughly to remove all traces of dirt before entering. Within the sauna itself there are seating areas of different gradations, resembling bleachers, situated about the room. These seating areas are made of wooden boards / tiles upon which you can sit or lie down. To this end, please place a damp towel on any surface that your body comes into contact with. Upon exiting the sauna, please wash off any sweat in the shower provided and then step into the adjoining bath.
In light of the fact that saunas are places where excessive sweating occurs, it is necessary to remain hydrated. In order to prevent dehydration, please be vigilant about consuming an adequate amount of fluids both upon exiting and prior to entering the facility.