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Need to Relax? These Japanese Spas Now Offer Virtual Hot Spring Baths

Just add water. (And a pair of VR goggles.)

Japanese spa; Shutterstock ID 645280459; Notes: RR Digital Shutterstock / dryadphotos

It feels near impossible to steal a moment of zen while a global pandemic rages on, or to clear your mind of coronavirus news and practice mindfulness. But leave it to the Japanese to find an ingenious (and calming) solution: the virtual onsen. That’s right, you can now take a restorative dip in the Land of the Rising Sun without actually leaving your home.

It’s all thanks to a group of ryokan (Japanese Inn) owners in the town of Arima, who have begun uploading VR footage of their hot-spring baths to YouTube. There are four videos on the channel so far and each clip promises a peaceful vista, as well as soothing sounds of flowing water and cherry blossoms fluttering in the wind.

So, how does it actually work? Well, you’ll need a pair of VR goggles suitable for 4K and, of course, a bath. Get the water pipping hot, pick your favorite hot-spring scene from the YouTube channel and relinquish yourself to the tub. Then, rinse and repeat this ritual as often as you need.

Japanʼs hot springs can help to heal people in quarantine around the world, as well as increase the efficacy of the quarantine,” the group said in a press release. “This way, we may, even if only slightly, help reduce infections and suffering from the new coronavirus.”

The town of Arima is a renowned hot spring retreat, but after the prefecture of Hyogo went under a state of emergency this month, some 90 percent of the town’s ryokan have closed to the public, according to The Verge. Thus, these VR experiences not only help people to relax but also give the ryokan owners an opportunity to show off their remarkable amenities.

Indeed, once the Covid-19 crisis has subsided, a trip to an Arima onsen should be at the top of your list.

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