spa review

'Tree of Life' at the Spa at Four Seasons Marunouchi

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By Mai Shoji

My experience at the Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi was like being embraced by my mother for the first time in years. The treatment healed my stress from work life and released my tension.

The Day Spa package includes access to the spa facilities, hot spring bath, and gym with herbal tea in a relaxation room and a choice of one of the treatments. I went there a little too late to make use of the gym, but the highlight of the gym is that it overlooks the city of Tokyo. Working out in that liberal environment will perhaps make your problems seem so trivial and optimistically clear your mind.

The changing and spa areas are quite cozy. There are only five lockers but they have abundant hotel-quality amenities lined up. The bathrobe was very comfortable and I think it is a significant feature at spas. They’re slightly over-sized for a standard Japanese girl, but it’s silky on the outside and toweled in the inside.

The radium hot spring bath was one of my favorite experiences here. Some of the luxury spas have the bath temperature set low so that guests can stay in longer. This bath is set at 42 degrees Celsius, which is perfect for women who suffer poor circulation. More than half of Japanese women are said to endure bad circulation even during the summer. Also, people who can’t stay in the bath for very long can quickly warm their bodies up due to the content. A radium hot spring refreshes the body as if bathing in a forest. This is because of the ionization effect that helps the air emit negative ions. It is said to improve the metabolism and boost physical immunity. Sitting in the bath for even just five minutes can help your blood circulate. The semitransparent windows in the women’s bathroom take in daytime light, creating a visually warm and peaceful ambience.

In the relaxing room, there are a few pieces of fruit on the platter, mineral water bottles, and cold wet hand towels displayed for the guests. The masseuse came straight in just as I took a seat on the sinking sofa. She asked me to fill in a two-page counseling form. Once I was done, she came in again for a personal counseling session.

They offer a couple of treatment rooms, both identical to each other and adjacent. It has a bed in the middle of a comfortable small room with dark shaded wooden walls. The art green curtain on one of the walls makes you feel you are in a tropical jungle. These fake greens are responsive to visible-light photocatalyst. They clean the air through photocatalysts even under indoor lighting. That was my favorite part of the room. It was quite some Japan-made technology I encountered.

I experienced the “Tree of Life Revitalizing Body Treatment,” a popular treatment which exclusively uses Africa's iconic Baobab tree oil for the entire body. Baobab oil is extracted from the seeds of the baobab tree and are rich in essential fatty acids, vitamins A, D, E and F, which help improve the skin. Sometimes they are used medicinally for asthma, mosquito repellent and for allergic skin conditions.

As I lay on the bed facing down, my masseuse warmed a deluge of oil in her hands as the overflow dripped on my back. She started massaging my back with firm and steady pressure. Her healing touch pressured the tense muscles while pushing the oil into my skin. It felt like she was not only using her hands, but also her arms, knuckles and elbows too. Rather than a gentle tickling touch, she rubbed in quite deep to loosen the muscles and help the lymphatic system to flow. It was quite surprising how she ground to the core in a fairly speedy rub. She focused on the exact area that needed the treatment. She then thoroughly massaged my arms.

She enlightened me that tensions on the shoulders let go when the arms become loose. In other words, the tension in the shoulders accumulates on the arms. So, rather than proceeding immediately on the affected area, it is better to ease the tension of the connected tissue. She meticulously worked on my arms, which was a discovery. She also worked on my bottom for a good amount of time to indirectly loosen the anxiety on my back. (She mentioned that many men ask for her to spend extra time on the bottom.) Unlike some of the strictly routine procedures at other spas, the masseuses here customize the treatment for each guest.

The thing that struck me the most was the background music, which is originally composed and assembled for each different treatment. The music for the“Tree of Life” was specially compiled to create a safari nimbus. It starts with a theme of a morning on a safari, then it changes into daytime and ends with a night hour theme. The guest can enjoy an entire day on a safari through the one-hour treatment, far away from stressful urban life.

Supposedly, the music for one of the treatments called “Raku”, which is a non-oil Japanese shiatsu massage, has an Asian feel. I think all spas should incorporate the idea of different music for each treatment.

I was treated with a special blend of vanilla herb tea in the relaxing room following the treatment. My skin was highly moisturized and my body truly rejuvenated. “Tree of Life” is the most popular treatment at the Spa at Four Seasons Marunouchi, and I understand the reason why.

“Tree of Life Revitalizing Body Treatment” 60 minutes/22,000 yen and 90 minutes/26,000 yen Treatment Hours: 10:00~21:00 Contact: 03-5222-7222

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Good review, is Baobab oil available commercially?

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