POSTED: February 17th 2009

Tokyo Olympians to enjoy hot springs therapy

Athletes and fans can relax / Images: Courtesy of Oedo Onsen Monogatari
Athletes and fans can relax / Images: Courtesy of Oedo Onsen Monogatari

LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features Communications

TAMPA: Tokyo's plans for the Olympic Village have an added bonus – offering Olympians a natural hot springs spa featuring mineral-rich hot-spring waters within walking distance.

What better way for athletes to relax and refresh, soothe competition jitters, get a massage and recharge those world class batteries?

Japan has more than 1,800 natural 'onsen' (hot-spring baths) complete with outdoor baths, jacuzzi, steam baths and saunas which offer athletes and spectators alike a chance to ease their travel weary souls before re-emerging to enjoy the excitement of the Olympic Games.

Warm bubbling waters, a soothing massage and a quiet meal creates an oasis of serenity, perfect as a brief interlude from the grinding Olympic schedule. There are a number within an 8km radius of the Olympic Stadium.

Yosuke Fujiwara, Tokyo 2016's senior executive officer, said: "Therapeutic hot springs are very healing and it is a good idea to rest your feet in the hot waters. I think it would be good for the athletes. It's a natural."

Soothing Ooedo-Onsen Monogatari is situated as a re-created Edo-era bathhouse cluster just three stations (about 2km) from Tokyo 2016's proposed Olympic village site.

It features languishing hot bubbling springs which emerge from more than 1,400 metres below the earth's surface. The springs are rich with sodium and chloride ions, calcium, magnesium and other elements to alleviate the pains caused by neuralgia and arthralgia, and improve poor circulation.

This one is well known for its wide choice of baths and the women's section alone has 17 different varieties from which to choose. As many as many as 6,500 bathers pour into this facility on weekends already.

A 50-metre footbath would be perfect for tired athletes and spectators to rejuvenate worn out feet after a long day walking around the Olympic venues and the Olympic Green. Another perk is that visitors could enjoy the outdoor baths and stargaze in the middle of Tokyo Bay, have a massage and leisurely dine at one of the 16 restaurants.

For a more recreational spa experience the baths of the Tokyo Dome LaQua at the heart of Tokyo 2016's 'Heritage Zone' offers an outdoor 'rotemburo' bath, a jet pool, and a sauna.

This spa sources waters from the Koishikawa spring, which comes from 1,700 metres underground and is open 22hrs a day. LaQua also offers sodium-chloride strong salt hot springs (hypertonic/neutrality/hot springs) that should be WADA-friendly.

Too bad the horses cannot take advantage of the water therapy.

For the extra energetic crowd, the Tokyo Dome boasts an adjoining amusement park with roller coasters just in case the Olympics are not providing enough excitement.

All in all the Tokyo bid is studying ways to offer a different and unique Olympic experience for both the Games and the Paralympics and create a role model for the future.

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