787 Bukit Timah Road
Detox massage: Hinoko bath costs $80
YOU could stick foot pads on the soles of your feet while you sleep, but if you wanted a more pampering, whole-body feel of a Japanese detoxification programme, then a soak and a Rimpa lymph node massage at Ikeda Spa is exactly the thing.
Singapore's first and only Japanese-styled spa has the most essential infrastructure of the Japanese wellness regime - the ofuro hot bath in a tub made from Japanese cypress wood, for example, which has natural antibacterial qualities making them resistant to mould; and then there's the hot stone bed that you'll have your massage on.
The detox programme starts with a 25-minute soak, or rather, 10 minutes with a cold shower break and then another 10 minutes. One gets a choice of more than six types of bath salts to choose from, from green tea to yuzu. The water is kept quite warm at a consistent 50 deg C, and at that temperature, onsen newbies might find it necessary to take a cold shower break after the first 10 minutes, even though generally, a recommended soak lasts at least 20 minutes.
Your detox process starts at the bath itself, since a warm bath stimulates not just blood circulation but supposedly decongests the lymphatic system. Plus, there are negatively charged ions in the water which have an "anti-ageing" effect on the body.
Ikeda Spa has two rooms with a hinoki bath attached, so that it's an easy trot from bath to the Ganbanyoku stone bed. Actually, I didn't know it was a hot stone bed (not having read the spa menu in detail) until I asked for the heat (at 45 deg C) to be turned off mid-way through the massage and was told that the heat will take time to dissipate given that it's not a simple thermal mat.
But that goes to show how relatively comfortable it is, as the table was overlaid with thick towels which cushioned the hardness of the surface.
The Rimpa detox massage, also known as the spa's slimming massage, focuses on the buttocks and thighs, and then the upper arms and upper back - where the main lymph nodes are, at the groin and armpits. The lymph nodes are supposed to remove micro-organisms and other foreign substances as part of the body's defence system.
The therapist also focused on relaxing the muscles which she did by way of firm strokes, and then the main detox massage movement of "sawing" or moving the hands on your skin with a sawing motion, as if to agitate the particular area.
My therapist wasn't exactly administering gentle strokes, being a bit too firm, although she was very sure of her movements. That said, a manual lymph drainage massage isn't about relaxation, and it's especially at the upper arm areas that one tends to feel the most soreness.
Coupled together with the heated table, that helps you continue with light sweating, the detox massage certainly felt like it got my lymph fluid flowing. My only other gripe is perhaps the sticky gel that is applied on the body, which supposedly aids slimming. Since real slimming isn't a conceivably achievable goal in just one session, I'd much rather have a rich oil instead, to nourish the skin.
Ikeda Spa keeps its services streamlined such that it isn't a luxurious spa as much as an expedient one with standard practices. At least, the decor is kept minimalistically clean, and it doesn't try too hard to be anything more than a day spa in a shophouse location. By Cheah Ui-Hoon
This article was first published in The Business Times.