birthdays, baths and buckets of mugwort

It happens once a year.

Despite all forces and factors to the contrary.

A day of pampering.

On the house. The house that be called Olympus Spa.

Olympus Spa, in the heart of the Korean-Chinese neighborhood here in Tacoma, is a women’s spa founded on Eastern philosophy and practices.

Japan’s bathing culture, onsen (hot springs) and sento (public baths) are among the top three things I miss most. While Olympus Spa isn’t identical, it certainly delivers the Asian bathing experience better than my clawfoot tub in these tight former quarters for the servant.

There’s the Asian style of showering — small plastic stools and buckets, faucets and hand-held nozzles close to the ground (a handful of Western shower stalls also available) — and pools for soaking ranging from icy to steamy.

Locker, towels, cotton robe, cap and liquid soap, shampoo and conditioner are provided. Especially for those into bathing, Olympus Spa is a bargain. For around $32, one can spend the entire day — from 9 am. to 10 p.m.! — or any portion thereof in emotional, physical and spiritual unwinding, destressing, relaxing and healing in its numerous baths … in the steamy herbal or dry sauna … stretched out on a shiny stone heated floor in the dimly-lit room while napping, reading, conversing … or soaking up the warmth in the earth rooms.

Earth what? In a moment …

Though the price be prohibitively out of reach for this poor unemployed girl, one day a year it becomes affordable. Because on the birthday, it’s free! (Services such as pummeling massages still cost, of course.)

It’s as close to Asia as I’ll ever find in Tacoma. A treat that can’t be beat.

Truth told, I endure 364 days of a shit life in this town looking forward to that 365th day of healing luxury. When that spa door swings shut behind, intense hardships and struggles for survival cease.

I’m immersed in a soothing, nurturing environment of serenity and decompressing where the healing waters flow and heat is drawn deep into bone marrow tissues starved for warmth and remedy from the pervasive dampness and cold.

I spend hours upon hours upon hours … and leave when the clock dictates, already anticipating next year’s visit.

Tomorrow marks my third and final yearly visit to Olympus Spa. Next year, I’ll be a thousand-plus miles away, gone.

Now to those earth energy rooms … a partial tour from their Web site

hot whirlpool & waterfall

Hear the refreshing sound of the waterfall and relax your muscles in our hydrotherapy pools.

mugwort well

Mugwort Well
Mugwort has been used for hundreds of years in Korea and is known to be effective in balancing women’s hormonal levels and contains natural antibiotics and sterilizers that help keep your skin healthy and young. (ed. note: the warm herb water is splashed over bodies using plastic bathing buckets.)


Alternating between hot and cold pools can help tighten your pores. Jump in under the waterfall and experience the revitalizing effect of its healing massage.

dry sauna

Our dry sauna is filled with an essence of a variety of Chinese herbs to promote good health and meditation.

Ed. note about these earth rooms … the floors of the heated rooms are covered in thick white canvas over warm sand or salt. Patrons lie atop in thin cotton robes (provided). Small pillows containing sand (visible in the pics) provide head support for rests. With talking prohibited, serenity is assured in these rooms of extraordinary cleansing and healing!

Heated Earth Energy Rooms

mud & jade room

Mud & Jade Room
Dry Mud and Crystals such as jade, rose quartz, aventurine, aquamarine, germanium emit Far-Infrared Rays to promote blood circulations and release the toxins that are locked within the body. It is about 170’F.

charcoal & sand room

Charcoal & Sand Room
It is about 140’F. This room has sea sand underneath a layer of canvas that relieves arthritis, irregular menstrual cycles, severe cramping, and light-headedness. Charcoal on the wall provides complete formentation that cleans the air, support the body.

sea salt room

Sea Salt Room
This room has sea salt underneath a layer of canvas and calcite crystals on the wall. It is designed to alleviate a range of respiratory and skin conditions, including asthma and psoriasis, and to reduce the effects of stress. It is about 150F.


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Karyn @ kloppenmum
    Mar 15, 2011 @ 01:56:48

    Sounds divine. Pampering indeed. Happy Birthday. 🙂


  2. Trackback: birthday, baths and buckets of mugwort « Barefoot Blogger - Cheap Airfare to Korea | Cheap Airfare to Korea
  3. Lauren
    Mar 15, 2011 @ 05:58:33

    Happy birthday! I hope you fully enjoy your spa day.


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