Sand Bathing is a popular treatment in Japan, called Sunaburo or Sunamushi. The therapy, sometimes referred to as Sablotherapy, Psammatotherapy, or Arenotherapy, involves being buried in hot sand, typically black volcanic sand. Of course, your head is not buried and stays above ground.
Although Sand Bathing is often connected to Japan nowadays, similar types of treatments are thought to have been applied in ancient Egypt and Greece, while also being popular in the Islamic world, notably in the regions from North Africa and the Middle-East. In fact, it’s a treatment that is mostly found in coastal and desert regions.
It’s thought that taking Sand Baths — depending on the mineral composition of the sand used — has many health benefits, such as cleansing, exfoliating, relaxing, rejuvenating, while also promoting alleviation of inflammations, rheumatism, arthritis, constipation, obesity, respiratory disorders, hemorrhoids, diabetes, menstrual disorders, muscle and joint pains, anxiety, and stress.
Additionally, one will sweat profoundly, which eliminate toxins and impurities from the skin, and stimulates the blood circulation, while allowing the body to absorb beneficial minerals that are in the volcano, desert, or otherwise mineral sand.
The Sunaburo Sand Bath treatment goes as follows: one lies down in a robe or kimono while somebody shovels sand over you (you may be lying in a sandbox or just on the ground on the beach), which is heated by the sun and/or by hot, volcanic spring water.
The sand will reach temperatures of around 50 to 55°C. As a rule, you will receive a little umbrella stuck in the sand near your head to protect your face from the sun. In general, the “bath” takes between ten and fifteen minutes, especially as a precaution not to get overheated. Mind also that Sand Baths are not recommended for pregnant women and for people with cardiovascular i.e. heart problems.
To clean oneself afterwards, the bather goes into an Onsen water bath, followed by a shower with soap and water.