Saunas, abundant snow make good match(快汗!雪国サウナ)

Yuko Sasaki, left, and Japan Joce-Xercise Association President Takayuki Suzuki, center(佐々木さん(左)と日本ジョセササイズ協会の鈴木会長(中央))

 NISHI-AIZU, Fukushima - Tented saunas are being promoted as a new tourist resource by a volunteer group in Nishi-Aizu, Fukushima Prefecture.
 Seeking to explore a new way of vitalizing the local community, the group organized an event over the weekend in which participants cleared away snow and soaked in a sauna. The town has coined the term "Joce-Xercise" - combining the Japanese word "josetsu," or snow removal, and "exercise" - to deem snow removal as a kind of exercise.


 "I hope people boost their health in sauna baths and also experience the town," said Yuko Sasaki, 31, a member of the government-initiated Local Vitalization Cooperator.
 According to Sasaki, the manga "Sado - Manga de yomu sauna do" (Learning sauna from manga) has created a sauna boom in Japan. Terms that appeared in the manga have become popular, such as "totonou" (get in good condition), which describes feeling good mentally and physically by switching back and forth between a sauna and a cold water bath. A "pro-saunar" is a person who aims to teach others the benefits of saunas.


 Finland is famous for its saunas, and Sasaki found a commonality between that northern European country, where people take sauna baths to get through the severe winter, and snowy Nishi-Aizu.
 Sasaki came up with the event, hoping that the town "can heighten the benefits of saunas." She put into the proposal her hopes that participants can enjoy saunas and snow, and local residents can come to think that the abundant snow actually benefits the town.


 The event was held Saturday and Sunday in cooperation with the Japan Joce-Xercise Association, which was launched by volunteers in the town to advocate Joce-Xercise. In the event, participants enjoyed Joce-Xercise and then took a sauna bath in a tent.
 Before the event, association President Takayuki Suzuki, 40, said, "I want participants to enjoy the charm of a snow town through saunas and Joce-Xercise."
 Sasaki said, "[Participants] can enjoy new experiences, such as jumping into a pile of snow they cleared away, after taking a sauna bath."
 The two-day event was held at several venues in the town, including the NishiAizu International Art Village, where a Finland-style sauna tent big enough for about 20 people was set up and a talk show was held by a sauna tent retailer and the association.

( Translated by The Japan News )


 【 2019年1月22日付・福島民友新聞掲載 】