The Finnish-originated sauna culture is globally famous, and many sauna enthusiasts can be found in Japan as well. While alternating between hot and cold temperatures is a familiar way to enjoy saunas, there are various other bathing methods. In this article, I will introduce the “Löyly” sauna bathing method, which utilizes the steam generated in saunas, and discuss its specific rules, characteristics, and differences between Finland and Japan.
Sauna, a facility originating in Finland
Saunas are a common sight at Japanese hot springs, and in recent years, sauna-specific shops have gained popularity. However, the original birthplace of saunas is Finland, specifically in the Karelia region of southeastern Finland, where saunas were born about 2000 years ago. Initially, buildings that served as food storage facilities began to be used as bathing facilities, marking the beginning of Finnish sauna culture.
At first, saunas were used as sacred places for washing bodies and childbirth, then later as facilities for promoting health. Nowadays, for Finns, it is common to have a private sauna at home, making it an indispensable place for them.
About the Löyly bathing method
While alternating between hot and cold temperatures is a well-known sauna bathing method, there are several other methods as well. The “Löyly” method, which I will introduce here, is one such method.
Löyly involves throwing water onto the stones of a sauna stove, generating steam. This raises the humidity and perceived temperature in the sauna, promoting sweating and metabolism. The term “Löyly” comes from the Finnish word “LÖYLY,” meaning “steam.” Additionally, a special stone called the “fragrant flower stone” is used for the sauna stove.
Aufguss, performed in tandem with Löyly
In addition to generating steam with Löyly, Finnish saunas also offer an aufguss service. Aufguss involves using a towel to fan the hot steam generated by Löyly, allowing the heat to be evenly distributed throughout the space and ensuring sauna users are exposed to the heat.
While saunas and Löyly originated in Finland, aufguss originates in Germany. Facilities that offer aufguss services have staff called “aufguss masters” who provide the service of fanning steam for sauna users.
Differences between Löyly in Japan and Finland
There are slight differences in the Löyly content between Japan and Finland. In Finland, regular water is used to generate steam, while in Japan, water with aromatic oils is used when throwing water onto the sauna stones. The aroma oil scent provides additional relaxation benefits.
In this way, Löyly in Japan has become a performance that enhances the sauna experience. On the other hand, in Finland, Löyly is typically a self-service activity performed by sauna users themselves.
The world of saunas, which began in Northern Europe’s Finland, is incredibly deep, with numerous ways to enjoy them, including Löyly, introduced here. Many hot spring facilities in Japan also offer Löyly with the German-originated aufguss, so be sure to check them out.