Over the weekend John and I went to get massages at Bear Hug, one of the most common massage chains I see all over Tokyo. We've both had massages in the US, but this was our first time in Japan.
|Bear Hug Massage|
At Bear Hug you don't need to schedule and appointment, you can just walk in. After filling out a form (luckily John could read it) we were each taken back to a massage cubicle. I say cubicle because the walls didn't go up to the ceiling and I could hear the masseuse next door walking around and talking to John.
The biggest surprise for me was the outfit we were each given to wear. I'm used to being told to strip down to my underwear if not being complete nude for a massage, but we were each given a pair of baggy athletic pants and shirt (red for me, blue for John). At the time I wondered if it was just because my massage was given by a man, but later in the massage there was a part where I sat up and he did some stretches on my arms that no one would do naked.
All in all, it was a pretty strange experience. It seemed to be expected that the masseuse would never touch my actual skin, so on top of the outfit I was covered in a blanket, and the massage was given through both. For the most part this was fine (though the constant readjusting of the blanket was distracting), but he did a scalp and face massage, and it was super weird and unpleasant to have my whole head wrapped up in a blanket. I think he and I were both a little nervous because I didn't speak Japanese, so the whole process wasn't relaxing at all. I think I left more stressed out that when I came in, and spent most of the massage just wishing it was over.
John on the other hand had a great time. He said his massage was wonderful - really intense, almost to the point of painful, but that his muscles felt great afterwards (and still do). He'll probably go back. I won't.