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Bathing in sake-infused onsen

The Yomiuri Shimbun

A woman applies locally produced sake lees paste to her arms at a ryokan inn in Shibata, Niigata Prefecture.

The Yomiuri ShimbunNIIGATA — Some ryokan inns in Niigata Prefecture have introduced an initiative called “furosshu,” offering guests the opportunity to bathe in onsen hot springs in which local sake is added and receive other treatments.

On the 26th of every month — the so-called day of bathing — visitors have the chance to soak in a sake-infused bath in 10 onsen districts in the prefecture.

Eighteen ryokan inns launched the service in February last year, including Shiki no Sato Kikuya at Takanosu Onsen, Shiki no Yado Minoya at Yahiko Onsen, and Shun Kai no Yado Yumotokan Suiyo at Unohama Onsen.

Ryokan inn guests not only have the opportunity to bathe in special sake-infused baths, but also treat their skin with sake lees, a by-product of sake production often used in beauty treatments.

Takeshi Iida, vice president of Hotel Senkei Co. at Tsukioka Onsen in Shibata, proposed the service. “I hope guests can enjoy the uniqueness of Niigata through our sake-infused onsen,” he said.

And visitors seem to be enjoying the novelty, with one saying, “It warmed me up.”

Bathing in sake is said to be good for your skin because the amino acid in the alcoholic drink is effective at unclogging pores. Putting sake lees on your face and body is also thought to be good for skin brightening.

Iida thought of offering the service so that guests can enjoy themselves. In December 2015, he learned that sake baths were popular at Ponshukan, a sake museum at JR Echigo Yuzawa Station, Yuzawa, in the prefecture. He rallied local ryokan inns to participate in the project via the youth group of the prefectural hotel ryokan association.

Despite no large-scale promotion, the baths have been getting favorable feedback on social media, such as: “I feel as if my skin looks brighter than before” and “I want to get sake for my bath at home.” Some ryokan inns have even started offering furosshu on days other than the 26th of the month.

Iida is now considering whether to expand the service from this year to include more ryokan inns and furosshu days.

Some participating ryokan inns offer only one of the options: either sake-infused baths or sake lees beauty treatments. Speech

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