While the term “self-care” is having a bit of a moment in the UK and America right now, it’s existed in many forms in East Asia for centuries. And it’s not just face masks and hashtags on social media, Japanese self-care includes rituals, mindfulness and practising healthy habits. These are the best of Japan’s wellness traditions to try today.
Usually referred to as ‘ofuro’, bathing is a ritualistic activity in Japan. It’s about much more than washing off the day’s dirt — daily baths are considered a way to wash away fatigue and stress and an important part of the culture. Just look at the history of Onsen — the tradition of bathing in mineral-rich hot springs throughout the country that dates back centuries. It’s easy to mimic at home with bath minerals and taking some quiet time for yourself.
This term is making its way into the mainstream, and it means ‘a reason for being’. It’s a practice that helps find meaning and motivation in your life, which is perfect for anyone feeling a little lost right now. It looks at what you love, what you’re good at, what the world needs and what you can be paid for, and finds a middle ground between all those things. Ikigai promotes being happy in what you do day-to-day and making mindful decisions about your life, so is self-care for the long-term.
We have all heard of Marie Kondo’s The Lifechanging Magic of Tidying by now and its wild success has shown how much we value clearer spaces. After all, clutter is linked to increased stress, so the calming effects of keeping a less-is-more space are worthwhile for self-care.
A lot of the minimalist designs in Japanese homes are inspired by Zen Buddhism, making use of only what you need and without introducing unnecessary clutter. The focus is on high-quality items that you love instead of lots and lots of stuff.