World Sauna Jouney | 世界サウナ旅 by METOS | Luxury time brought by forests and waterfronts
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Sho Yoshinaga report
A trip to experience the now of Finnish sauna culture

Luxury time brought by forests and waterfronts

Central Finland, a honeymoon area for nature and people and sauna

@Central Finland, Keski-Suomi / July,2017

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Moi! I´m Sho Yoshinaga!
I visited Finland in the fall of 2017 and present my report on the Finnish sauna culture in two parts.
First, I will explore the charming Central Finland which both true fans of Finland and fans of sauna would love.

City of Jyväskylä as seen from the lake.

Central Finland, a paradise of forests and fresh water and sauna

Central Suomi (Central Finland) is in the middle of the Southern half of Finland, roughly 3,5 hours travel from Helsinki. The Central Finland is located right before the arctic circle (61-63 °N) and has the area of 20 000 square kilometers, approximately ten times of Tokyo. A large part of the area is covered by thick forests of coniferous trees but 20 % of the total area consist of lakes and rivers.

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Although the winters here are cold, Central Suomi has been blessed with lush green forests and beautiful waterfronts. In consequence, Central Suomi has more saunas than other areas in Finland. It seems that the area has particularly many lake side saunas, with which one can enjoy open air bathing and cooling down in fresh water. Besides private and public saunas, there are saunas for tourists and leisure time activities.

Central Suomi, Sauna Region of the World

Central Suomi is growing as an area where one can experience the soul of Finnish sauna, which is in harmony with nature (and a lot of fun!) more deeply and Central Suomi has proclaimed herself to be “The Sauna Region of the World”. Thus, in this volume I am going to introduce several
charming saunas of this area.

Introduction movie by Cisit Central Finland(英語)

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”Sauna Region of the Wold” logo published by Visit Central Finland

The gateway city to Central Suomi is Jyväskylä. Jyväskylä resides about three hours ride by train or car from Helsinki, heading North. This calm and charming, yet topical city has also a connection with famous designer Alvar Aalto (the city has even Aalto museum!) and it is a venue for World Rally Championships (WRC).

A sauna hut that can sometimes be seen on the lakesides. There are various kinds of sauna huts, from privately owned to public ones.

“Saunalautta” A sauna raft for rambunctious leisure

First, I´m going to introduce you “Saunalautta”, a house boat with a sauna. When I visited Jyväskylä I saw these things at the docs – they were something unique that looked like big rafts but had a sauna on top of them and even a terrace on the roof! Hard to believe as it may sound, but they have a wood fired sauna inside and one can enjoy sauna bathing while circling around on the lake. On top of that, the raft I got on had even a jacuzzi installed and on the 2 nd floor terrace one could leisurely enjoy the outside air and have a barbeque! It is possible to leave this raft floating on a freely chosen spot and take a dip in the lake – and one can even make dives from the 2 nd floor terrace!

The liberty and freedom of this experience was quite exciting, because the idea itself is something that couldn´t be fathomed in Japan. It seems that there are many kinds of sauna rafts in Finland (differing in size and design) operating mainly during the summer and the Finns seem to value bathing in a sauna raft to be very enjoyable leisure.

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With a bit of luck, one might have the opportunity to see the northern lights reflecting from the lake surface in Central Suomi.

“Revontuli Resort” An abundance of variation and charming scenery!

The place I visited next was Revontuli Resort locating in Hankasalmi, a place surrounded by beautiful forests and lakes. Revontuli offers a wide selection of activities, like golfing, skiing, canoeing and the saunas are also very popular. Every room has a sauna installed and on top of that, there´s a genuine wood fired smoke sauna, a tent sauna that´s popular among outdoors fans, log house sauna big enough for even a group etc. This place seems to be popular place for  individuals and families to relax, or colleagues from work to do some “sauna diplomacy”. Naturally, one can take a swim in the lake that´s opening right in front one´s eyes. One could experience a stimulating lambasting with juniper twigs(!) by a sauna teacher or select a planned a tour during which one can bathe to his heart content while learning on the history of sauna, which makes this a perfect spot also for tourists who want to have an introductory experience to sauna bathing.
It is incredible because I stayed at this resort only one night but after dinner I could even see northern lights in the evening sky, and the name of the facility means “northern lights” in Finnish! It seems that even in September when I visited here with luck (and if the weather is right) it is possible to see the northern lights and thus I consider this to have been a very fortunate event.

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Sauna in the middle of the forest where one can have even beauty treatments

The place I visited last was「Varjola Holiday Center」. This location is own by a family that has run a farm there over five generations, but their facility now has conference rooms, cottages with kitchen, a restaurant (open only during summer), a large variety of saunas etc. One thing that caught my attention was one of their paid services, sauna beauty treatments. The staff offers treatments including mud pack therapy that are gathering attention from ladies who are conscious about beauty and body maintenance. Interestingly, I was told that the healing effect of these treatments increase if ladies share the experience with other female unfamiliar to them before. Of course, besides this Varjola offers an abundant variety of activities making use of the grounds and the surrounding nature that both sexes can enjoy, such as saunas (smoke sauna, tent sauna etc.), hiking and fishing, rafting, survival games and more. Work and play, taking care of the mind and the body… This is a perfect place even for powerful people to let loose and have fun amidst nature.

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How to create something unique with regional resourses

Put all theory aside, the most attractive feature of Central Suomi is her nature that is spreading as far as the eye can see. That alone guarantees that the tourists coming here will experience something special. Besides that, in Central Suomi awaits extraordinary atmosphere together with lakeside saunas, original regional culture and bathing that is everyday enjoyment all mixed in superb balance. What impressed me the most this time was the abundant environment and how every facility has kept exploring solutions for offering something unique unavailable anyplace else. I could sense the sincere Finnish love for the nature, their respect for sauna as a way of coexisting and, in common with Japan, their want to offer the spirit of hospitality and extra value for travelers. To put it into another words, I believe one could say that this hospitality is sensing how to have fun by gathering together regional resources and extraordinary experiences. Nowadays there is a strong demand in traveling business to have personal experiences besides just having something to see. So how can one produce these kinds of welcoming personal experiences whilst making the best use the regional charming points? What constitutes a great bathing experience? These are questions I would always like to keep pondering.

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スクリーンショット 2017-12-30 15.16.18

Regarding Visit Central Finland

This expedition was done with the support of Visit Central Finland tourism bureau. Visit Central Finland is a bureau that is conveying regional tourism related information through web site and other channels. For those of my readers who developed an interest towards deep sauna experiences that Central Suomi has to offer I highly recommend taking a look at their website. (In the picture on the left of Sho Yoshinaga Uljas-san and on the right Päivi-san of Visit Central Finland.)

 

Visit Central Finland

<URL> https://visitcentralfinland.com

<Facebook> https://www.facebook.com/visitcentralfinland/

<Instagram> https://www.instagram.com/centralfinland/

showyoshinaga

Profile: Show Yoshinaga

 

CEO of Metos Inc.

Sho Yoshinaga who is the CEO of Metos Inc. was born in Fukuoka. He has learned the importance of making harmonious coexistence with nature as a boy scout in his youth. His career started as a mechanic in the air force of the Japanese Self-defense Forces, and had often taken sauna together with his colleagues, which gave impetus for understanding the charm of sauna.

After working for the air force, he had been working as a sales person in apparel industry and interior lighting industry.

Since 1998 he has been working for Metos Inc., with his creativity and the various experiences while taking advantage of having the know-how of former Nakayama-Sangyo (Metos Inc. previous name).

He has been making Metos’s business bigger and bigger, and nowadays there’re 6 branches and over 100 contracted dealers all over Japan.

Sho’s always trying to do his best to vigor the Japanese bathing culture, and to advocating new ways to enjoy saunas.

For example, in order to promote the word “löyly” into Japanese spa industry, he has introduced to Japan, previously unknown sauna heaters, such as iki-sauna and Sauna-isness (gas heaters which are löyly-durable).

His recent interest is to combine sauna and entertainment/outdoor activities, and one of his project “Neppa-tai (Löyly performance group)” became popular, and last year, he released tent sauna trailer sauna, and log sauna for the enjoyable experience outdoor.

Born in Fukuoka prefecture. Member of the board of Metos Inc. Full name: Shoichirou Yoshinaga.

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Saunalautta SS Kippari

 

<URL> http://www.mobile.palsau.fi/

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Holiday Resort Revontuli & Revontuli Golf

 

<URL> http://www.revontuli.fi/en/

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Varjola Holiday Centre

 

<URL> http://www.varjola.com/home/