The word Japan evokes special emotions which some are closely related to Hayao Miyazaki animated movies as great part of his artistic creation speak of respect for nature balance and between its beings. Landscapes like the oldest evergreen forest in the world, traditional music from the shakuhachi and all other artistic creations in partnership with nature empower us to create images through sounds and words that are able to touch, soothe and rebalance us.
Japanese native people inspire with their work too, like Mr.Yoneda, who in his own way nurtures friendship between man and nature. He shared with us his thoughts about the creative event that is growing every year, the Japan Sauna Festival, which started on March 7, 2015 (Sauna Day) as a small event which only members of Finland Sauna Club (FSC) and the related parties gathered in Finland Village in Koumi town (Nagano prefecture) to enjoy the “real” sauna.
Sauna Fest Japan grew so fast, that this year, already about 600 visitors will join the three day festival. It is considered to be largest sauna event in Japan that it is getting very close to its 4th birthday, due in 2019, September 21-23.
The growing event and the number of participants are encouraging, but most of all because people are more concerned about taking care of themselves and being closer to nature. The inspirational atmosphere of Finland Village, the venue of the festival, is located on the lakeside with a panoramic view of Mt. Yatsugatake where it is cool and quiet.
Mr. Yoneda mentions that in this place they create “Finland” in Japan. It reflects the desire to cooperate not only between humans and nature, but also to unite cultures, traditions and to learn from each other.
To create the right environment and mood for the sauna festival directly from Finland was imported the Log House that has an authentic sauna and a fireplace. To better tell about the sauna culture and create a relaxing atmosphere, the festival will delight people with many events related to different types of saunas such as mobile sauna, tent and smoke sauna, as well as offering the goods of sauna, music and food.
Components like atmosphere and food, complement sauna and its treatments, entirety providing the energy and support for guests to feel better about their body and mind. Similar sentiments has Viktorija Bučelytė – Kačerauskienė, founder of saunahuete.de, which at Sauna Fest Japan 2016 presented her works (handmade sauna hats), conducted felting classes and performed sauna procedures. 3 years pass after she was sharing her knowledge in the festival, but she remembers and describes her experience as: “At that time, the right seed was sown in the right soil, which is growing and developing successfully. I think in a short time the petals of sakura will strew more saunas in a beautiful Japan”. Victoria’s impressions and the mood of the event is conveyed on video created by Sauna Fest Japan 2016.
The sauna is a connection to nature, says Mr. Yoneda, but he mentions that in Japan still many people thinks that sauna is just a place where you enjoy steam and heat. One of the aims is to change that image by spreading message how “real” sauna is like and what a wonderful experience you can get there.
The wish to develop sauna culture is not only to create popularity, but also introduce about deeply rooted traditions and rituals, which are enhanced by the influence of the surrounding nature. Nowadays, this is not easy to do because there are many avid internet users that cannot easy dismiss electronic devices. Anyway, it is through technology, in this case a tv program, that the news about saunas are spread quite rapidly due to the emergence in media of the TV series “Sado”.
The sauna has been gathering attention as a way of blowing off the steam and becoming the mainstream, but purpose is to keep in mind, maintain and practice the true nature and origins of the sauna, which is presented every year at Sauna Fest Japan.