Ultimate Guide to Getting a massage in Tokyo

By Thao | January, 2022 

Do your feet hurt from endless travelling around Tokyo? Do you casually feel neck pain from working a desk job in Tokyo? Nothing fights body aches better than a satisfying massage in Tokyo! However, the overwhelming number of massage places and types available in Tokyo, as well as the confusing systems of some clinics may discourage you. BFF Tokyo will come to your rescue with our Ultimate Guide to getting a massage in Tokyo. This article will not only familiarize you with several massage concepts but also introduce you to several amazing spots or even hidden gems for a wonderful massage in Tokyo. Moreover, read on to the end as we have some useful tips for you!

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    Massage in Tokyo

    Massage - The best way to relax your body while living in Tokyo

    Going to a massage therapy place is a real treat to yourself because massages have many health benefits. For instance, they promote blood circulation, help relax and refresh tired and knotted muscles. A massage should be added to your Tokyo itinerary as they heal your body and make you happy. Your process of getting a massage in Tokyo at clinics or salons often goes with this flow:

    1. Firstly, you should specify the part of your body you want to relax in Japanese...

    Vocab

    Meaning

    Kubi ()

    neck 

    te (手)

    hand

    ashi (足)

    foot

    kata (肩)

    shoulders

    senaka (背中)

    back       

     

    ...by combining the above vocabulary with ga itai desu (がいたいです). For example:

             Kubi ga itai desu.

             首がいたいです。 

             I have neck pain.

    2. Secondly, you will be asked to choose your time period for a massage in Tokyo: the massage courses vary among different places and range from a short 15-minute course, 1-hour course to 2-3 hours.  Price is charged accordingly.

    3. Thirdly, you can choose extra services such as oil, aromatherapy essence…

    4. ….and finally, relax and enjoy your massage in Tokyo!

    Types of massage available in Tokyo (and in Japan)

    There are a lot of massage types in Tokyo as well as in Japan and if you don’t know what they are, they just might confuse you. Here’s a quick breakdown:

    Hogushi (ほぐし)

    Hogushi is usually the cheapest type of body massage where a minimal amount of physical contact is made. Clients do not have to remove clothing or are given massage wear in hogushi

    Traditional Thai massage

     Known as Tai koshiki massaaji (タイ古式マッサージ) in Japanese, Traditional Thai massage which originated in Thailand, is also a very popular massage in Tokyo and in Japan. It involves a lot of stretching and is often referred to as “2-people yoga. 

    Lymphatic massage

    Lymphatic massage, which is Rinpa massaaji (リンパマッサージ) in Japanese, is an extremely popular massage in Tokyo as they are believed to benefit the overall well-being, circulation, and digestion. The concept of Lymphatic massages is to encourage the flow of lymph and the reduction of toxins in the body through gentle pressure and rhythmic strokes. 

    Aromatherapy (Aroma serapii, アロマセラピー) and oil treatment (Oiru toriitomento, オイルトリートメント)

    They are basically gentle massages with aromatic essential oils and require direct contact. They are also popular add-ons to a normal massage in Tokyo.

    Acupuncture and moxibustion (Shinkyuu,針灸)

    Acupuncture and moxibustion are both based on the concept of the flow of “qi” or energy in the body. These two have ancient Chinese origin: acupuncture involves the use of thin needles, while moxibustion involves burning dried plants near the surface of the skin. They may be unique concepts but these massage types in Tokyo actually attract a lot of attention. 

    Foot massages

    Also referred to as Reflexology (Ashi tsubo,あしつぼ),  foot massage simply applies pressure on different areas of the feet to stimulate internal organs. This is a must-have massage in Tokyo after a long travelling journey around the capital!

    Chiropractic massages or Seitai/Kairo (整体・カイロ)

    Chiropractic massages revolve around the principle of aligning your hips so that the rest of your body becomes properly aligned as well. Therapists usually encourage weekly visits, especially for people with neck and back pain.

    Osteopathy practice (Seikotsu, 整骨)

    Though similar to chiropractic in terms of hip-focus, Osteopathy practice requires a medical license and is favored by sportsmen and heavy mobile workers. Chiropractic and osteopathy services are both superb to those suffering shoulder, neck, or lower back pain, but there are some key differences that are important to note when seeking treatment for your ailments. Chiropractors tend to focus on the spine while osteopaths take the entire body’s ailments into consideration.

    Oil massage in Tokyo
    Acupuncture massage in Tokyo
    Lymphatic massage in Tokyo
    Foot massage in Tokyo

    Unique to Japan - Shiatsu 

    What is Shiatsu

    Aside from the abovementioned types of massage, there is 1 more massage technique that has its origin in Japan and is recognized as an amazing massage all over the world - Shiatsu. In the Japanese language, shiatsu (指圧) means "finger pressure". Shiatsu techniques include massages with fingers, thumbs, feet, and palms; acupressure, assisted stretching; and joint manipulation and mobilization. To put it simply, Shiatsu works by applying finger and palm pressure at the acupoints to improve a patient’s wellness, by reducing stress and improving the flow of blood. 

    Shiatsu massage therapy uses techniques similar to those found in other treatment methods such as osteopathy, lymphatic drainage, and physiotherapy. However, Shiatsu practitioners attribute physical health conditions and diseases to blockages and imbalances in the energy flow throughout the body, which differentiates its diagnosis and treatment from other massage therapy modalities. Moreover, the practice of shiatsu is also based on the traditional Chinese concept of qi like acupuncture and moxibustion, which is sometimes described as an "energy flow". Qi is supposedly channeled through certain pathways in the human body, known as meridians, causing a variety of effects. 

    Types of Shiatsu

    Today, Shiatsu has a number of different styles, philosophical approaches, and theoretical bases. Some concentrate on acupressure (acupuncture) points, while others focus on more general work on the body or along the pathways of energy to influence the qi that flows in them. Some of the different styles of Shiatsu include Zen, Macrobiotic, Namikoshi, Hara, Healing, etc. Among them, the most popular are Zen Shiatsu, ohashiatsu, and ashiatsu massage. Different Shiatsu clinics are specialized in different styles of shiatsu, but all shiatsu types have proved their wonderful effects so you do not need to worry too much about this!


    Wondering what else is unique to Japan? You may fancy our Everything You Need to Know About Divorce in Japan or Japanese National Holidays!

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    Which massage in Tokyo is suitable for you?

    Overall, when choosing a massage in Tokyo, it is important to choose the one most suitable for your focused body areas, budget, and additional services. Here is a quick guide to give you a big picture of a massage in Tokyo! 

     

    Best for

    Ave. Price per 60 Mins

    Hogushi

    Soothing the tension in the back, the nape of the neck, and the shoulders

    ¥3,000

    Traditional Thai massage

    Relieving headache, back pain, joint stiffness

    ¥4,000~6,000

    Lymphatic massages

    Reducing swellings in arms and legs

    ¥4,000~6,000

    Aromatherapy

    Treating respiratory disinfection, decongestant, and psychological benefits

    ¥4,000~8,000

    Oil treatment

    Relaxing

    ¥4,000~8,000

    Acupuncture and moxibustion

    Reducing stiff shoulders, low back pain, neuralgia, or arthritis

    ¥5,000~8,000

    Reflexology

    Soothing your feet

    ¥3,000~6,000

    Chiropractic massages

    Managing the joints

    ¥4,500~8,000

    Osteopathy

    Treating arthritis, back pain, headaches

    ¥4,000~8,000

    Shiatsu

    Reducing muscle stiffness and aiding digestion

    ¥6,000~9,000


    Want to know more about how to make the most out of your stay in Tokyo? Also check out on BFF Tokyo our The Best Things to do in Tokyo at NightUltimate Guide to Ice Skating in Tokyo or Top 16 Unique Bars in Tokyo!


     

    Where to get a massage in Tokyo

    Riraku (リラク, Relaxation) and Esute (エステ, esthetics or beauty treatments) are 2 categories that cover getting a massage in Tokyo and Japan. As the name implies, riraku focuses more on relaxation. This includes treatments designed to soothe aching muscles. On the other hand, Esute focuses on the skin as well as getting the body in shape, so some treatments might not necessarily be relaxing. For example, many places offer treatments that help make your face get smaller. So, you can look for spa places that define themselves as Esute (エステ) to look for treatment from professional estheticians.

    However, for Riraku, ...

    ...you have to look for seikotsuin (整骨院) or sekkotsuin (接骨院), which can be interpreted as “bonesetters”, “judo therapists” or “pain clinics”.  This type of massage clinic concentrates on sports massage and physiotherapy-type treatments. For chiropractic and osteopathy fans, you should look for chiropractic clinics (カイロプラクティック), as well as seitai (聖体) clinics and osteopathy clinics, but these all tend to be pricier. 

    The most popular option is the massage clinic chain or organization that has branches scattered around Tokyo.  If you’re specifically fond of shiatsu or Japanese-style treatments such as acupuncture and moxibustion, you’ll need to go for Shinkyuuin (鍼灸院). Additionally, many hotels and onsen (温泉, hot spring complexes) offer massage services but their prices label them as luxury treatment and may not be the best choice for some people's pockets.

    Massage in Tokyo Riraku clinic
    Massage in Tokyo Esute clinic

    Top 3 English-friendly clinics for a hassle-free massage in Tokyo

    It may be difficult for you to communicate your problems in Japanese to the masseurs, but no worries – we have a list of the top English-friendly massage clinics in Tokyo for you!

    1. Erawan Thai Traditional Massage & Spa

    As the name suggests, Erawan Thai Traditional Massage is famous for its Thai traditional massage technique which will drive all stress and tension away after a session. This kind of massage is described as energizing and relaxing and makes use of muscle compression, joint mobilization, and acupressure. Thai massage differs from regular Western techniques for it does not use oil and is even described as “yoga for lazy people” since the masseuse would manipulate and stretch the body in a way the exercise would. In addition, the place offers many other treatments such as an aromatherapy oil massage, a foot reflex, a hand massage, an herbal massage, etc. There are 3 locations of Erawan Thai Traditional Massage in Asakusa, Akasaka, and Roppongi, so you should check their website to find out the most convenient location for you.


    Address: Roppongi Daiya Heights 4F(412) (Across Roppongi Hills.) 7-15-13 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0032

    Business hours: 12:00 ~ 23:30 ​(last appointment at 22:00)

    Nearest station: Roppongi station

    Website: https://erawan.jp/


    2. Arona Spa

    Unexpectedly situated near the Shibuya Crossing, Arona Spa is a spa that provides several types of body massage, ranging from a foot massage to a full body massage therapy session at an affordable price point. At Arona Spa, you’ll be offered a relaxing foot soak and scrub before moving on to your chosen treatment by the friendly staff. What a great location to soothe your pain after a trek around Shibuya!


    Address: Atlas Shibuya Building 5F, 30-3 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0042

    Business hours: 12:00 - 4:00

    Nearest Train station: Shibuya station

    Website: https://www.arona-spa.com/


     

    3. Satoru's Osteopath Salon

    This osteopath clinic is opened by Satoru - an awesome physical therapist and masseuse who even appeared on TV.  Satoru-san is famous for being fun and energetic during the sessions while extremely focusing on the customers’ problematic body areas! Furthermore, his background in LA means he communicates perfectly in English!


    Address: Ikeda-Bldg2F Higashi2-23-6 Shibuya-ku, Tokyo  150-0011

    Business hours: 9:00 - 18:00

    Nearest station: Shibuya Station

    Website: https://satoruseikotsuin.main.jp/p/3/


    Osteopath massages in Tokyo

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    Sometimes, being able to communicate in your comfortable language will save you from unnecessary hassles. Check out our articles on Ultimate Guide to English Speaking Doctors in Tokyo and Ultimate Guide to the Top English Speaking Dentists in Tokyo!

    But if you’re looking to brush up on your conversational Japanese and listening skills, check out Japan Switch and their affordable online Japanese lessons here!


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    Our favorite places for a Shiatsu massage in Tokyo

    Shiatsu is one of the best methods to recharge your energy and revitalize after a long day. Here are our top spots for shiatsu massages in Tokyo:

    1. Namikoshi Shiatsu center

    When mentioning shiatsu, we cannot forget to mention the Namikoshi Shiatsu center as this family business was founded by the so-called original inventor of shiatsu - Tokujiro Namikoshi. There are several clinical branches for this organization and you can choose and reserve the most convenient time and location for you through their English-friendly websites!


    Address: 2-15-6 Koishikawa, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112-0002 Japan Shiatsu College

    Business hours: 10:00 - 20:00

    Nearest station: Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line

    Website: https://www.namikoshi-center.info/en/

    2. Oketaku Shiatsu Clinic

    The house where Oketaku Shiatsu Clinic holds its shiatsu session is 100 years old, which has both pros and cons. On one hand, you get to experience a warm, nostalgic and comfortable atmosphere; on the other hand, you will encounter some inconveniences such as frame distortion, sliding doors which don’t slide, freezing temperatures in winter, and leaking roofs. They decide to use this old folk house to represent the human body which has aged and needs care and restoration at times and conveys their beliefs of supporting well-being by usual care like shiatsu and self-care. As this lovely spa is located in Niraishi - a small city near Tokyo, it would be a perfect weekend trip!


    Address: 1546 Minamigejo, Fujiimachi, Nirasaki City, Yamanashi Prefecture 407-0004

    Business hours: 9:00 - 18:00

    Nearest station: Isawa Onsen Station

    Website: https://www.oketaku.com/eng/

    3. Seitai S-Shape

    This massage clinic is easily accessible from Shibuya and is different from other places that have shiatsu in that they develop unique and original massage techniques from traditional massages. Besides, they especially combine shiatsu massage with myofascial release or joint manipulation to reduce muscle tension and fix skeletal misalignment. Not only are the services unique and helpful, they are also offered at a reasonable price!


    Address:1-20-6-902, Ebisunishi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan 150-0021

    Business hours: 9:00 - 20:00

    Nearest station: Ebisu Station

    Website: https://seitai-s-shape.com/?lang=en


    Are you fascinated with Japanese cultures? You may enjoy our Ultimate guide to tea ceremony in Tokyo or Ultimate Guide to Having a Japanese Wedding!


     

    Tokyo massage_spa massage
    relaxing onsen massage in Tokyo

    Noteworthy Onsen hotels that offer a relaxing massage in Tokyo

    Not the most cost-efficient massage choice but is a luxury pampering session you deserve after a lot of stress and pressures in life! Here are the short-listed candidates for top onsen hotels that offer relaxing massages in Tokyo.

    1.     Thermae Yu

    Thermae Yu, an onsen that derived its inspiration from the popular manga Thermae Romae, is located conveniently in Shinjuku, Tokyo. It has an indoor and open-air onsen, stone saunas, and high-quality spa treatments such as facials and scrubs. Its customers can also enjoy cafes, lounges, bars, and restaurants built in the onsen. How about visiting Thermae Yu after a long trip around Shinjuku?


    Address: 1-1-2 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0021

    Business hours: 24/7

    Nearest station: Shinjuku Sanchome Station

    Website: https://thermae-yu.jp/


    1.     Spa LaQua

    Similar to Thermae Yu, Spa LaQua is an onsen spa complex located in the downtown Tokyo area. It is close to Tokyo Dome city and is consisted of 2 main areas: the Spa Zone (onsen spa), and the Healing Baden Zone (low-temperature saunas). While the Spa Zone will treat you to both body massage like body scrub, massage, etc., and beauty treatments such as head massage, hair treatments, the Baden Zone will help you relax with different types of saunas.


    Address: 1-1-1, Kasuga, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112-0003 LaQua Building

    Business hours: 11:00-21:00

    Nearest station: Suidobashi Station

    Website: https://www.laqua.jp/spa/


    Onsen is not the only Tokyo-getaway option you have. How about camping in Tokyo?


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    Tokyo massage_budget friendly
    Tokyo massage_spa massage 2

    Our reccommendations for a budget-friendly massage in Tokyo

    Treating yourselves to a body massage at a big or famous clinic/ salon in Tokyo is definitely expensive – the prices often go up to ¥8,000 – ¥12,000 an hour. However, we have discovered a few places that offer massages at a reasonable price which appeals more to the locals than tourists. Cheap massage places are often open-style rooms with mixed gender and divisions among different beds rather than private rooms. Therefore, you may have to brace yourselves for Japanese-only communications and open-style rooms at the inexpensive yet high-quality massage clinics we suggest below. 

    1.     Minna no temomi

    Minna no temomi is actually a very well-established and professional organization of massage clinics around Tokyo. This organization has around 13 locations throughout the Tokyo metro but all of them are "hidden" behind tall Tokyo buildings. Although each branch has only 3-5 beds, they are surprisingly always crowded. You can receive massage sessions either with or without your own clothes. Moreover, the masseurs focus on relieving your pain point and are very hospitable, which explains their strong customer base. A special thing about Minna no temomi is that each branch has its own specialty, so you may have to check their website to find out which brand is best for acupuncture, which is suitable for oil treatment.


    Business hours: 24/7

    Website: https://minnanotemomi.jp/


    1.     Temomin

    Similarly, Temomin is also another massage chain store that has its locations “hidden” in small alleyways. They may be hard to find but you will be surprised by what you can get. Temomin clinics are part of a huge organization Glocal Treatment Center and often have a few masseuses with high-quality massages and reasonably priced service. They always try their best to explain how their techniques transform the customers’ body flow. The chain store is popular with local salarymen.


    Business hours: 10:00 -21:00

    Website: https://www.global-sports.co.jp/brands/temomin


    1.     Hogushi no Tatsujin

    Another massage chain clinic is called Hogushi no Tatsujin, which can be literally translated as Experts of Massage. The place lives up to its name as it is always out of reservation slots. Different from the previous two, this organization is famous for its foot massages. That's why we recommend Hogushi no Tatsujin if your feet need extra attention. 


    Business hour: 10 am – 11:30 pm

    Website: http://hogushi-tj.com/shop


    Massage is not the only entertainment available in Tokyo. Also check out BFF Tokyo's Top 10 English Bookstores in Tokyo, Ultimate Guide to Cafes in Tokyo, and The Top 15 Bars in Tokyo!


    Useful Japanese phrases for an amazing massage in Tokyo

    Before going for a massage in Tokyo, you may have to call in for a reservation. In addition, during your massage session, the masseurs or experts will try to communicate with you in order to cater the pressure to your preferences. Thereby, we have prepared some useful phrases that you may need during your conversations with the massage clinics in Tokyo, and in Japan!

    Japanese

    Romaji

    English

    強さは大丈夫ですか? 

    Tsuyosa wa daijoubu desu ka?

    How’s the pressure?

    ちょっと痛いです。

    Chotto itai desu.

    It’s a bit painful.

    もっと強くしてください。  

    Motto tsuyoku shite kudasai.

    Please apply more pressure.

    予約をお願いしたいんですが

    Yoyaku wo onegai shitain desu ga.

    I would like to make a reservation

    ご希望のサービスはなんでしょうか?

    Gokibouno saabisu wa nan deshouka?

    What service would you like?

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    Tips for getting a massage in Tokyo

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    1.    Booking in advance

    The first tip is to reserve a massage slot before coming. While some places accept walk-ins, many relaxation centers operate on a reservation basis. For a massage in Tokyo, you can go directly to the websites of the desired massage locations or call them. However, most local places are not specialized in English services, which may cause you some hassles. On the other hand, hotels, hot springs, and spas tend to be more expensive than others but there’s a higher chance that the booking process can be done in English. Services can be booked through their respective websites, or if you’re staying at the hotel, through the front desk.

    2.    Best time for a massage session

    The second tip is to choose a "strategic" massage time! Some people may prefer afternoon or late-night sessions after a long tiring day, but how about stopping by during the daytime? The massage clinics in Tokyo often get really busy from afternoon to late hours so daytime can bring a different vibe!

    Tokyo massage_afternoon massage

    Final thought

    After a lot of stress from work or traveling, you definitely deserve a pampering session at our recommended massage places in Tokyo! So, how about calling in for a reservation now?

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