It’s all about the sand in Ibusuki, a beachside city on Kyushu Island in Japan’s subtropical south. The black sand is warm to the touch and soothing to the skin of anyone who engages in a ritual the Japanese call suna-mushi (sand bathing). Clad only in a light yukata kimono, beachgoers cover their bodies with the healing sands with the help of attendants at spas and resorts along the shore.
For more than 300 years, Japanese have traveled to Ibusuki’s beaches in search of a sandy cure for rheumatism, back pain, post-stroke paralysis, hemorrhoids and all sorts of other ailments. In modern times, suna-mushi has also become a beauty treatment, a means to moisturize the skin via metasilicic acid and calcium ions in the sand. Many of the spa hotels offer a choice of shaded suna-mushi pavilions or sand bathing in the open air with an umbrella or towel to protect your face from the sun.
The better sand spas are arrayed along the shoreline that stretches north from the port area, including the Ibusuki Hakusuikan resort, Ibusuki Seaside Hotel, and Kyukamura Ibusuki National Park Resort. Visitors can also camp beside the beach (and sample the sands) at Ibusuki Eco Camping Ground.