Japan has a reputation for being a clean and orderly society, and for the most part, this reputation is well-deserved. Gunma Prefecture, located in the center of the country, is no different. Home to mountainous terrain and hot springs, it’s a popular spot for nature lovers and tourists looking to relax. However, what some may not know is that Gunma is also home to a unique type of massage therapy that is becoming increasingly popular among locals and tourists alike. One-person massage (마사지) shops, also known as “IppinAnma” in Japanese, are small businesses where the owner and sole employee provides personalised therapy to their clients. Let’s dive deeper into this fascinating aspect of Gunma’s culture.
While there are larger massage franchises in Japan, people have come to appreciate the personal touches and flexibility that small, one-person shops offer. At these businesses, the owner acts not just as a massage therapist, but also as a receptionist, scheduler, and accountant. This hands-on approach means that you’ll probably be greeted by a friendly face when you arrive for your massage, and that the owner will know your preferences and medical history, leading to tailored treatments for your specific needs.
From foot and calf massages to full-body treatments, there’s something for everyone at these shops. Many owners learn massage techniques passed down through generations, which adds to the intimate atmosphere of the business. The prices are also reasonable, ranging from 2,000 to 4,000 yen (around 20-40 USD) per hour depending on the type of massage. For those on a budget, there’s no need to skimp on quality here.
One unique aspect of the one-person massage shops in Gunma is that many of them offer “Ashiatsu” massages. In this type of massage, the therapist uses their feet instead of their hands to apply pressure to the client’s back and legs. Don’t worry, the therapist uses bars to support themselves above you and regulates pressure such that it’s not unbearable. Some people report that the pressure applied is more powerful and satisfying than normal massages. Ashiatsu is said to be particularly good for sports injuries or those suffering from chronic back pain.
Another popular massage offered is Shiatsu, which is a type of massage that focuses on applying pressure to specific points on the body, stretching muscles, and improving flow in the meridian channels. This type of massage can be helpful in managing stress, boosting energy and immunity, and alleviating muscle pain.
If you’re interested in trying out a unique and personalised massage experience during your travels in Gunma, a one-person massage shop will not disappoint. From traditional techniques to modern-day twists on classic styles, there’s something for every preference. By choosing to support local businesses, you not only receive an excellent massage, but also contribute to the livelihood of those working and living in Gunma.