I live in the Ebisu area of Shibuya-ku in Tokyo, close to fashionable areas like Hiroo, Daikanyama and Azabujuban.
Mythologically speaking, Ebisu is the deity of commerce, and the namesake neighborhood embodies this with an impressive array of esthetic clinics, spas, hair salons, nail salons, shiatsu, body work, chiropractic and massage studios. There are also many bridal after-party venues, and you can find many ladies adorned with katyusha hair bands and curly hair in Starbucks dreaming and talking about their turn. In this way, I would define Ebisu as a town of transformation. And this is my story of my own transformation...
I never really imagined that I needed massage therapy. I thought it was just for women and old people. It sounded too wimpy for me, and I prefer occasional visits to manly saunas (especially mist saunas like Shimizuyu in Omotesando). Men like me often go to the sauna to recover from hangovers. Why do we drink too much? I drink too much because I can't ”turn off” after work. Nerve-wracked and full of thoughts, I go insane without booze.
My friend one day recommended that I go for a decent massage. I heard that for many Americans, the image of "massage" means something government-certified. Because of this, all the massage therapists in the Tokyo American Club are officially licensed. By chance, I came across the government-authorized Swedish massage in my neighborhood: Hawaiian Healing Salon Hokulani, and everything came together.
Hokulani's massage therapists are bilingual and trained at a prestigious school before being certified by the Hawaii state government. I chose their 100-minute intensive course because it sounded versatile.
I felt slightly puzzled when I was asked to change into very small Y-front briefs made from paper, but things soon got easier. For the first 60 minutes, I enjoyed the conversation and soothing stroke of a Lomi Lomi treatment. The masseuse, who had lived in Hawaii for eight years, discovered some stiffness in my leg that I was not previously aware of. But there it was, affecting my life.
More important than this, the masseuse found a blockage in the blood flow to my head. She explained that I think too much all the time instead of sleeping. As soon as the Swedish massage on my head started I reached a trance-like state, though I remained completely aware of what was happening. At least I thought so: after the treatment, the therapist told me I was nodding my head and snoring. My sense of time was distorted in this fairy-tale like experience.
Turn off, tune out, lose tension. I felt like a new man.
So Ebisu is transformational, and Hawaiian Swedish Massage Hokulani is, too. Their mixture of Hawaiian body work and hot stone treatment enabled my transformational experience.