The modern Japanese-style spa, particularly the day spa, is a combination of traditional Japanese hot spring spas and the unique services offered at Japanese beauty salons. The incorporation of massage and Asian health practices into Western beauty services creates a luxurious, relaxing ambiance around the typical menu offered at an American day spa. According to Day Spa Magazine, Japanese-style spas offer a Japanese-inflected adaptation of the American day spa experience, emphasizing relaxation and luxury in a naturally-influenced setting.
Southeast Asia is also continually on the cusp of blending nature and science to craft superior beauty products. Japanese day spas in the U.S. often have a salon component that puts these products to use. Japanese-style spas are wellness and beauty centers that treat the whole person, going above and beyond the work done at neighborhood hair shops and massage boutiques.
Japanese beauty salons are an inspiration to cosmetologists the world over, according to Japan Today. At Sensia Studio and Japanese Day Spa in Houston, Texas, our full range of salon services, blended with massage, body wrap and facial treatments, makes us continually the top-rated spa in Houston.
What is the Inspiration for American Japanese-Style Spas?
Japanese bathing sites, built near natural hot springs, originated over 3,000 years ago, according to BBC Travel. Buddhist monks are thought to have founded many of the original hot spring sites, tapping into the volcanic heat native to Japan’s island geography. According to the Selected Onsen Ryokan blog, traditional Japanese spas come in two varieties:
- Onsens, or public baths built around hot springs
- Ryokans, or hot spring retreat hotels
These places were both considered healing. Sometimes medicinal oils or herbs were added to hot spring water to enhance restorative qualities. Over the centuries, it became common to staff ryokans first with masseuses, and later with beauticians, to make the guest’s retreat more luxurious.
Beginning the 1980s, Japanese-style spas began to open in major cities and cultural enclaves in the U.S. One of the oldest is Ten Thousand Waves Japanese Health Spa in Santa Fe, New Mexico, founded in 1980, followed by Osmosis near Sebastapol, California. In 1989, Sensia Studio and Japanese Day Spa opened in Houston.
Prior to this revolutionary era in spa history, European-style day spas and retreat centers were common in or near major American cities. The globalization of the 1980s brought in a fresh wave of approaches to the traditional day spa format, filling a new niche.
Inspired by Japanese minimalism, the man who began Ten Thousand Waves built his spa into the side of the Rocky Mountains. The founder of Osmosis opened his own spa after a trip to Japan introduced him to the cedar-enzyme baths of Japanese bath houses.
Since then, Japanese-style spas have continued to take inspiration from Japanese bath house aesthetics, with wood-paneling, stonework and the inclusion of botanical elements. Sensia Studio and Japanese Day Spa was one of the first to combine cutting-edge hair and skincare techniques with day spa services and Japanese practices.
According to this New York Times piece, many Westerners crave a Japanese bathhouse experience after returning to the United States from travels in Asia. After reaching a level of popularity in Japan, luxury Japanese health and beauty approaches are now sought after in the U.S. This Spain Insider article explores the recent adaptation of the Japanese head massage into American culture.
How Japanese-Style Spas Blend Tradition, Science and Nature
Most modern Japanese-Style spas have an interior design that blends minimal, clean aesthetics of a Japanese salon with natural elements such as rocks, water features and orchids. In a similar fashion, products used in Japanese-style spas are a blend of trends in natural body and hair care, clinically-tested or laboratory-synthesized compounds, and long-trusted Asian herbs and healing practices.
Sensia Studio and Japanese Spa uses a combination of innovative, natural and traditional approaches. A popular brand used at Sensia is Global Milbon, an Asian salon product company that uses scientific research to develop its gentle, non-toxic hair care products. Alongside cutting-edge salon technology, Sensia uses all-natural massage oils – including aromatherapeutic essential oils – in its massage therapy services. We also offer traditional Asian health treatments including body wraps, sinus-clearing and reflexology.
Several Japanese style-spas like ours also offer manicure and pedicure treatments, microblading and hot tubs or medicinal soaks. Regardless of their menu, Japanese spas typically blend:
- Natural remedies and high-tech approaches
- Modern salon practices with traditional spa retreat luxury
- An emphasis on feeling good with the bonus result of looking good
- Eastern, Western and medically-developed massage methods
- Relaxation and efficiency
Day spas with a salon component are unique in providing individual services and full-day packages. You can get your hair trimmed, or do a total reset of your wellness and appearance, depending on your preference!
The Role of Massage at Japanese-Style Spas
Massage is at the forefront of most Japanese-style spas. This harkens back to the tradition of Japanese ryokans, or hot spring retreat centers. According to the Ryokan and Hotel Association of Japan, historically, it was common for a masseuse make rounds to visitors staying the weekend at a center. In modern times, beauticians or estheticians also visit guests in their rooms at a ryokan.
Ashiatsu, which literally means “foot pressure,” is a form of massage that guests at ryokans have enjoyed for centuries. It is a form of “barefoot massage,” or massage that where the masseuse uses their whole body to exert pressure on the client’s muscles. Modern Japanese-style spas often offer several forms of barefoot massage, such as Thai, Chavutti or Fijian massage, depending on how their staff specializes.
According to Red Bamboo Medispa’s blog, hot or warm stone massages are another Japanese import you may encounter at a Japanese-style spa, including Sensia. Some massage therapists use aromatherapeutic oils, common in Asian massage traditions, on the client before applying hot stones. Basalt stones heated to over 100 degrees are placed along areas of the body prior to massaging them, including directly along the spine just before a back massage. The heat from the stones is thought to prepare a tense area for therapeutic manipulation; loosening tight muscles before a deep tissue massage.
Salon Services You May Encounter at a Japanese-Style Spa
The cross-pollination of Eastern and Western spa culture visible at Japanese-style spas in the U.S. means that you may encounter a varied range of salon and beauty treatments at one of these establishments. The menu at a Japanese day spa may include:
- Esthetician services, including facials
- Hair repair treatments
- Manicures and pedicures
- Japanese hair straightening
Elements of a typical spa experience are usually inter-woven into a Japanese salon’s services. For example, at Nuansa Spa in New York City, patrons receive a traditional face massage during their Japanese facial treatment. Another NYC Japanese spa, Shizuka, offers facials with traditional Japanese ingredients, as well as a custom line of skincare products made with plants native to Japan (green tea, rice, mushrooms). Each Japanese-style spa seems to draw on the culture of origin in a different way to rejuvenate and delight its clientele.
Having an esthetician on staff at a Japanese-style spa is in line with the practices at Japanese ryokans. Microblading, interweaving eyebrow hairs for a full look, is especially important at Japanese-style spas and salons because of its Asian origins. According to Microblading LA’s blog, the practice evolved in Asian countries in the early 1990s and is sometimes still referred to as the “Japanese method” in Western countries. It should be noted that many estheticians are cross-trained in microblading as well as skin care. Here tradition intersects with modern techniques, like microblading alongside the use of dermatologist-designed skincare products.
Sensia Studio offers microblading and esthetic treatments by seasoned specialists. We even produce our own line of skin products for use in-house and for sale in our online store. Our Sensia Skin product lines mirror a need for treatments specific to various skin types and are arranged by the nutrient they focus on. Sensia Skin comes in Vitamin C, Peptide (named for a type of protein), Enzyme and Hydrating lines – respectively, for antioxidant renewal, nourishment, exfoliation and moisturizing purposes. We use the finest ingredients from nature mixed with clinical knowledge to formulate our Sensia Skin products.
What Makes Sensia Studio and Japanese Spa the Top-Rated Spa in Houston
Sensia exemplifies the “best of both worlds” spirit of the Japanese-style spa. Our practices are as authentic as they are scientifically-advanced. We offer flexible options and packages from haircut and color to custom day-long spa experiences. From our minimalist salon area to our luxurious spa quarters, we try to sow tranquility and care into every client experience.
Our exemplary client care and customer service has earned us a current 4.8 star-rating on Facebook, a 5-star rating on Demand Force and a spot on the top five spas in Houston from USA Today’s 10Best. We continually work to give clients the highest quality service, and our ratings speak to our success. If you are looking for the best Japanese day spa and salon in Houston, look no further than Sensia Studio and Japanese Day Spa! Book an appointment with one or more of our professionals today!