Holistic Sanctuary, Akasaka
On a scorching August afternoon, I arrived at the doors of one of Tokyo‘s newest English-speaking spas, Holistic Sanctuary. Located in a new apartment block about two minutes from Akasaka Station near the Akasaka Sacas complex, the salon was easy to find. When I came out of the elevator, the owner and head therapist Keiko Chiba was awaiting to greet me with a very friendly and welcoming smile, along with a bright, "Hello, how are you?" in a thick London cockney accent (Keiko spent the last few years as a therapist in London).
On entering the spa, the first thing I noticed is that it’s completely different from any other Japanese spa I have been in. The lighting is subdued and the atmosphere calm, the furnishings rich and inviting. The whole space is dedicated to just one client at a time, “a dedicated sanctuary for you, and you alone,” as Keiko explains. Immediately I felt relaxed in the space and once I cooled down Keiko asked me to fill in a very simple English questionnaire to help her ascertain my physical condition and exactly what I wanted to get out of my session.
Over the last few months I have been suffering from an aching under my shoulders, undoubtedly from my terrible posture and constant hunching over my laptop (which I am doing again as I write this) plus a general fatigue from the oppressive Tokyo heat. Once Keiko had an idea of what was needed, we decided on an oil massage with a focus on the back followed by reflexology. She asked me to change into a robe, giving me the option to either disrobe completely or wear a pair of disposable underwear that she provides. Keiko is very professional about covering the body with towels and only exposing the sections she is working on, which is great for those of us with a bit of modesty.
After I lay on the table all my fears, apprehension and tension literally melted away as Keiko expertly and soothingly applied the warmed oil and began to massage. She explained that she really tunes in to a clients mood, stress level and body condition, focusing her own energy to reinforce yours, getting you to and reenergize and relax. After a good 30-minute oil massage I was feeling absolutely relaxed and pampered, my back was feeling fantastic and still is today, one week on.
For the second half of the therapy, Keiko performed reflexology. I had been getting regular Shiatsu treatments and thought that it would be the most effective for my back, but actually I found the reflexology or “zone treatment” to be much better. Each part of the foot is linked to a part of the body so by focusing massage on a particular area, a therapist can help alleviate symptoms elsewhere in the body. At this point I must admit I have no idea exactly which part of my foot she was treating as I was drifting in and out of consciousness, but it was very, very nice.
After she was finished she began to apply hot towels to remove the oil and I began to come round. Keiko gave me plenty of time to come back to reality, and after I had changed she had a delicious cup of mint tea ready and waiting for me.
After I floated home, and on Keiko’s advice had a light meal, I went straight to bed and had one of the best, deepest sleeps I have had in a long time. Keiko performs many types of treatments, and accepts both male and female clients (couples are also welcome). She even has a special pregnancy massage for expecting mums. She also does combo treatments, combining massage with a slimming treatment such as cavi-lipo or a facial. I will definitely be back for more of the same and can’t wait to try some of the other options as well.
Address: 6-6-4 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Open: Daily, 12-10 p.m.
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