Cryotherapy In Tokyo: What’s It About And Where To Try It

Is It Me Or Is It Chilly In There?

You’ve probably seen sports stars and celebrities touting the incredible benefits of enclosing themselves in the science fiction looking sub-zero temperature chambers, so what is this mystical machine? 

It’s called cryotherapy, and its many users attest to its huge range of health benefits, from boosting your metabolism and curing arthritic pain to offering stress relief. But is cryotherapy the real deal, and how difficult is it to find a friendly, assessable, and reliable cryotherapy salon in Tokyo? We went to find out. 

What is cryotherapy, and what does it do?

Also sometimes referred to as ‘cold therapy’ in the most basic of terms, cryotherapy is the use of ultra-low, freezing and near-freezing temperatures to treat physical ailments. Similar to applying an ice pack to an inflamed or injured area, it minimizes inflammation and encourages recovery.

While it’s internationally popular with countless cryotherapy salons becoming practically mainstream in the US, and growing steadily here in Japan, it’s still a therapy that’s being studied by medical professionals. Most of the therapy’s effects are anecdotal, but there’s enough anecdotal evidence out there to prove that while still newish and a little science fiction, it’s here to stay.    

Cryo Tokyo Cool Recovery

The mystical machine in action

The ultra-cold temperatures trigger what’s called ‘thermogenesis.’ Thermogenesis is the production of heat in the cells beneath the skin, encouraging the body to kick start its regenerative processes, activating blood flow circulation, increasing the metabolism and reportedly kick-starting lymph drainage among a whole list of other benefits.

There are a few different types of cryotherapy treatments, many of which you can try at Tokyo’s Cryo Tokyo salon in Azabu Juban. There’s full-body cryotherapy where you step inside a cryo chamber, as well as targeted treatments which focus on problem areas, and even cryotherapy facials. While today the US is the cryo capital of the globe, the first-ever whole-body cryotherapy chamber was built in Japan in the late 1970s; in the 1980s, it made its way to Europe and later became popular in the US and Australia in the past decade or so. 

Cryo Tokyo Cool Recovery Counter at Azabu Juban

Why do people do cryotherapy?

It’s been a popular form of recovery, beauty, and physical therapy for sportspeople and celebrities for a while now. Sportspeople often use the treatment as a way to recover and keep their bodies in peak condition. 

The cold temperature encourages vasoconstriction, which reduces blood flow, reduces inflammation around soft-tissue injuries, stopping them from progressing. For these reasons, the team at Cryo Tokyo highlight, it’s a great way to assist those who suffer from swollen joints and other hardships that come with arthritic pain and the general aches and pains that come with everyday life. 

per session, users can burn between 500–800 calories

While Azabu Juban is known as one of Tokyo’s more upmarket and style-conscious suburbs, it’s no surprise that a portion of Cryo Tokyo’s clients visits for more aesthetic reasons. The thermogenetic effect kicks the body’s metabolic rate into overdrive, meaning that per session, users can burn between 500–800 calories, and with most sessions lasting just a few minutes, it’s a very easy—and appealing—alternative to the gym!  

Cryo Tokyo also offers cryotherapy facials, the process activates collagen production in the deeper layers of the skin, making it feel and appear smoother, tighter, and firmer. You could call it frotox (frozen-botox), an noninvasive alternative to the needle.   

How does it work?

I went along to Cryo Tokyo’s salon to try the process for myself; the salon just imported a state of the art Impactcryo chamber, imported from the US and it’s the only chamber of its kind in Japan. 

Cryo Tokyo Cool Recovery

While the steps may vary from salon to salon, the treatment we experienced was an excellent indicator of what to expect. As soon as you enter the salon, the staff will run you through the process—in English or Japanese—so you know exactly what to expect. During my visit, the staff even kindly ran through an entire demonstration. A full body treatment lasts just two to three minutes, but the after-effects are long reaching. 

The preparation

Before stepping into the salon’s machine, you’ve got to have your blood pressure tested to ensure that your body is prepared to be exposed to such low temperatures. When you’ve passed that little test, you have to strip down to your underwear, but the salon provides a robe and optional crop-top for privacy. You’re also given a set of gloves and some elastic boots to wear inside the machine as a protective measure.  

Cryo Tokyo Cool Recovery Robe and Gloves

Now for the fun part

Once inside the machine, you remove your robe, and the therapy starts. If you’re new to the process, the team suggests a two-minute session. The temperature inside the chamber sits at around -120°C to -196°C. While it is incredibly cold, the air is dry, meaning that the surface of your skin feels cold, but there’s no deep body chill, it’s not unbearable, or even uncomfortable, really, more like a refreshing surprise. During the two minute treatment, you’re asked to rotate slowly, and that’s about the extent of it, very simple and super fast.

Cryo Tokyo Cool Recovery Machine in Action

Enjoying a chilly time

The team at Cryo Tokyo suggests combining a full body treatment, with a 10-minute facial treatment, which consists of a direct application of cold therapy to the face and a Normatec leg blood flow and lymph drain. Both of these can be done simultaneously and essentially require you to wear oversized compression-like boots, then kick back and relax. 

Cryo Tokyo Cool Recovery

Cryo Tokyo also emphasizes on security: sessions for the full body are limited to 3 minutes, and up to 10 minutes for a specific area. But, as we are all fighting the terrible COVID-19 epidemic at the moment, they also informed me that their ventilating systems run 24/24 in order to repulse viruses and bacteria. The salon is welcoming guests one by one so they are not in contact with each other, as well as booking the room individually for maximum security. Highly reassuring!

The outcome?

While I am a late-20s writer who, apart from cycling through Tokyo, doesn’t really strain my body too extensively, I did feel like the experience was beneficial. I am an avid onsen and sento user, and I appreciate the benefits of switching between the hot and cold baths as a way to kick start my body. 

I left the salon feeling refreshed, awake, and alert but also relaxed and calm

The cryotherapy experience was like enjoying all the benefits of the cold bath without the uncomfortable cold water feeling. I left the salon feeling refreshed, awake, and alert but also relaxed and calm. 

The staff made me feel comfortable and were able to answer any in-depth questions I shot their way in English. If you’re looking to try cryotherapy for the first time and you’re nervous about what to expect—and language barriers—or if you’re an experienced cryotherapy goer looking for somewhere new to visit in Tokyo, Cryo Tokyo is definitely well worth visiting.

And since we love our readers at Savvy Tokyo, we dug up some really nice discount prices for you to try out cryotherapy in Tokyo: Cryo Tokyo is offering up to 30% on your Chill (2 min treatment) or Impact (3 min treatment) Cryo to Savvy readers. And there is more… Ask for Savvy Tokyo readers special discounts when booking to get up 20% to 30% on your pair treatment or Cryo Body Coupon!