Vihta: a particular sauna massage product made of bundles of birch branches and leaves


Sauna, a facility that originated in Finland, is ideal for health, beauty, and relaxation.

There are numerous sauna enthusiasts in Japan as well as in Finland.

A sauna is not only a way to get warm but also a way to enjoy löyly and a water bath.

Vihta is one of the tools used exclusively in saunas and has been used in Finland for thousands of years.

In this article, I would like to introduce you to the Vihta, which you should know to enjoy the sauna more.

Vihta used in Finnish saunas

Sauna is a type of steam bathing that originated in the Karelia region of Northern Finland.

The origin of the sauna dates back more than 2,000 years.

In addition to ablution, as we know it today, saunas were used as sacred spaces for childbirth in older times.

It was also introduced to Japan during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

And one item that has been used in Finnish saunas for more than 2,000 years is called Vihta.

Vihta is made of branches and leaves taken from birches and puts together like a bouquet.

The process of making a Vihta is simple. First, birch branches are cut to the same length and tied together at the base with string.

The Vihta is then used in the sauna by tapping the whole body.

It is like a natural massager.

What is the birch from which Vihta is made?

The birch tree is part of the Betulaceae family and is a deciduous tree.

 It is known for its white bark and is often called “Shirakaba” in Japan.

The tree thrives in cold regions, particularly in Northern Europe and Canada, and can also be found in northern Honshu and Hokkaido in Japan. 

Its strong vitality allows it to grow even in areas where snow accumulates, earning it the nickname “mother tree.” Birch trees grow wild throughout Finland, where the tradition of using them in saunas originated. 

The Finnish people have always been familiar with the birch tree, which likely inspired the idea of incorporating it into sauna practices.

How to use Vihta

To use Vihta in the sauna, soak it in water beforehand and hold it in one hand.

Then, using a comfortable amount of strength, gently beat the Vihta over the entire body, being careful not to damage the skin.

Gradually increase the force and adjust the strength as desired.

This act of striking the body with Vihta is called “whisking,” It can provide health benefits such as increased blood circulation, metabolism, and perspiration by stimulating the skin.

Additionally, the young birch leaves used in Vihta emit aromatic components that fill the sauna room, creating a relaxing effect similar to that of a forest bath.

Vihta can be used as a massager or hung on the sauna wall for interior use.

Some facilities even offer a service where staff members use Vihta to tap your body for you.


Vihta is a tool that has been used in Finnish saunas for over 2,000 years, as Finland is considered the birthplace of saunas.

It is believed that tapping the body with Vihta leaves can provide various health and relaxation benefits, such as increased blood circulation, skin tightening, and natural aromas.

Using Vihta can enhance your sauna experience and make it more meaningful.