Rasfeel Aroma Salon, Nakano
We women are probably all guilty of forgetting to take care of ourselves, in our commitment to taking care of other people and situations. Running from job A to B. Taking the kids to their activity, and then heading to a meeting. Sending in that report, followed by sending out email invites. The only time we take care of ourselves may be that latte in the closest coffee shop that has a menu easily read. Maybe the quick shoulder massage at the stand in our train station's shopping center. I know I am guilty of all that and more.
Finally last week I had the opportunity and time (!) to take a day out for myself. While I like a modern salon when it comes to my hair, when relaxing, I want to be comfortable, be able to destress as though I am at home. That’s exactly what my visit to Rasfeel was like.
Rasfeel, a small salon nestled quietly in a residential area near Higashi-Nakano station, is a bit like visiting the countryside, and I mean that in all the best ways. From the first step through the outside gate, traffic sounds begin to disappear. Total calm descends at the entryway as the lights are subdued and the scents of lavender and lemongrass fill the air. This is no artificial air freshener; the salon holds classes in natural soap-making, so there are always fresh flowers, herbs, and essential oils on site. Miki Ohta, the owner, popped out of the work room and greeted me in such a warm manner, I was immediately at home. Hitomi, the aromatherapist, who was kind enough to meet me at the station and walk me to the salon, took me upstairs for a pre-treatment interview and explanation of services. Many salons hand you a clipboard, form attached, with boxes to check. Are you working full-time? Check. Do you have children? Check. Do you feel stress? Check. Check. Check!
But at Rasfeel, Hitomi poured tea, sat beside me, and started chatting, while writing in a notebook. She guided the conversation to my job, social life, hobbies, time in Japan, and more, speaking just like a friend, not a paid consultant. The treatment room itself was very relaxing, both visually and texturally, with traditional Japanese window coverings, folding screens, and a tatami mat, plus lush brown and beige towels and a rug. Nothing jarring. Just serenity.
I had decided to have the aromatherapy massage treatment, so after our conversation, Hitomi showed me several essential oil choices, all good for relaxation and balance. She made some suggestions, and after choosing oils, the treatment began. The aromatherapy massage is a full body treatment starting from the back of the neck down to the feet, and then the front, from the feet up to the head. She offered to adjust massage pressure to suit; I went for light to medium which seemed best for relaxing, but if you want something closer to Thai massage pressure, she is happy to accommodate. The atmosphere, massage, and aroma of the oils were just right, and after the treatment, I literally felt like I had awoken from a quality eight-hour sleep, refreshed, relaxed, and ready for the rest of the day.
After the treatment, Hitomi and I chatted a bit longer. She told me that the goal of the salon is to support clients’ lives by building complete relationships, just as you would with a close friend or family member. In addition to quality salon treatments, the therapists aim to provide a listening ear, remembered name, and concern for clients’ work and family life. They also offer individualized maternity massage with the goal of reducing anxiety, decreasing any symptoms of depression, and relieving muscle aches and joint pains. Special aromatherapy may even improve labor outcomes.
Rasfeel is located about an eight-minute walk from Higashi-Nakano station. It is a bit tricky to find if you have never been there, but the staff members are happy to meet clients at the station and walk with them back to the salon. Hitomi speaks English well, so those who don’t read Japanese can call or email to speak with her.
Address: 1-9-18 Nakano, Nakano-ku, Tokyo
Open: Mon, Wed-Sat, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sun 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (last appointment)
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