Japan’s wonders: A swimming pool filled with wine

Japanese Wine Association has estimated that during 2011, an average Japanese person consumed 5.2 litres of wine. This volume is more than double the wine consumed by an average American. Similarly, according to wine market tracker Vinitrac, around 50% of Japanese consume wine at least once a week. Regarding wine type preference, 50% of Japanese prefer red wine, and 38% opt for white wine.

Besides the many dietary benefits of wine, some wine researchers claim that soaking bodies with red wine is an overall skin treatment. People practice this treatment in several parts of the world.

For instance, at the Bagno Vignoni swimming pool in Italy, you can go for a refreshing swim in a pool filled with gallons of Chianti wine. Similarly, at La Vinothèque spa in Barcelona, Spain, you can indulge in one of their unique spas — a spa built around an enormous swimming pool filled with red wine.

Wine swimming pool

Figure 1: Woman in swimming pool by Timothy Meinberg

Pool bathing in Japanese culture

Pool bathing is an important part of Japanese culture and is thought to improve spiritual and physical health. Japan has developed some of the world’s most luxurious hot springs (Onsen), where you can soak your entire body in pools of wine, coffee, and tea.

For example, there is a coffee pool, a bathtub filled with coffee, and even a pool filled with red wine, known as a wine pool. Connoisseur swimming pools are a recent trend among the super-rich in Japan, where you can take a dip in coffee, red wine, or tea.

Taking a bath in the pool is an excellent way to relax while enjoying the health benefits of red wine. Red wine is rich in antioxidants, which fight free radicals in the body. Additionally, this can help reduce the risk of skin spots, allergies, ageing effects, heart disease, and other major illnesses. The biggest wine swimming pool in the world is located in Japan and holds almost 4,000,000 gallons of wine.

Origin of the wine swimming pool in Japan

Wine is the perfect drink for the hard-working Japanese after a long day at work. However, it was not an ideal beverage to consume in the swimming pool. When Nagisa Motoyoshi, the Japanese president of Italian sparkling wine producer Sorgente Group, came across a European wine swimming pool, he decided to introduce the idea back home.

He built a wine-filled pool under the stars. The pool structure consisted of transparent glass tubes filled with about three feet of champagne that remained at around 27 degrees Celsius to keep it in liquid form. When you swim in a wine pool, it looks like you’re gliding on the water as your body floats on this sea of champagne.

Famous Wine Pools

Vino pool

Japanese wine company operates the Vino Pool. The architecture of the Vino pool contains a shallow pool with an underwater floor that allows you to swim while completely submerged in wine[1] (or any other liquid). It is made of panels that can “float” vessels of all kinds, including boats.

Hakone Yunessun Spa Resort

The Hakone Yunessun Spa Resort, located 50 miles from Tokyo in Hakone, features 26 different baths, some of which are filled with ingredients such as sake, green tea, coffee and red wine. And they’re not just for show – the spa uses fresh ingredients in the baths and refills them regularly throughout the day. So whether you’re looking to relax in a traditional hot spring or soak in something a little more unusual, Hakone Kowakien Yunessun is the perfect place for you.

Famous Wine Pools

Chateau Maru

This Japanese swimming pool has three partitions. Wine, coffee, and tea fill each partition at 28oC, 33oC, and 36oC, respectively. You can immerse yourself in the three liquids one after the other. The most popular experience is going out from the pool with soaking wet hair and lying on top of bean bags to dry.

Sake Spa Yufuin

Sake Spa Yufuin is located in southern Japan. The spa offers several bathing options: you can enjoy a traditional hot tub filled with red wine or an outdoor bathtub filled with white wine (or both if you’re feeling adventurous).

If you like being warm and relaxed by yourself with some soft music playing in the background (or if you’re just really craving some wine), this bathing experience may be for you. During the preparation, the spa staff pours two bottles of wine into your bathtub before filling it with hot water. The idea is that all of the flavours from the wine mix create an aromatic bath experience.

You will find yourself floating on top of layers of suds made from mineral water while listening to classical French music. The mineral water is infused with essential oils, and an array of herbs, including mint leaves soaked in red or white wines beforehand.

At the Yunessun Spa Resort in Hakone, Japan (about 90km southwest of Tokyo), visitors can soak in pools filled with wine for a total skin treatment like no other.

Swimming Pool Ethics

When you arrive at the pool, you can take a bath and enjoy the pool in privacy. Besides the wine pool, there are several informal bars throughout Japan. If you have never been to an Izakaya, they are casual restaurants where you can order drinks and food. You can sit at tables or bar stools and eat from small plates shared among your friends.

In Japan, these establishments serve several alcoholic beverages such as sake (rice wine) or beer, and food like Yakitori (grilled skewers), Ramen noodles, Tonkatsu pork cutlets, grilled eel sushi rolls topped with spicy tuna sauce, and many other dishes.

These are often lively places where people gather in large groups to socialize over good food and drink. You will fit right in here at this pool. Everyone is here for enjoyment only—no one cares how you look when taking baths together.

The pool is a great place to relax after a hard day’s work and socialize with new people. It is perfect for an afternoon with wine, drinking and swimming in your bathing suit. The pool experience is not just for the rich and famous anymore! You can spend a day at your local pool filled with red wine[2]—and it won’t cost you much more than your daily cup of coffee at Starbucks (or whatever they call them these days).

Controversies related to Japanese spas

The mayor of the Japanese city of Hirosaki is building a wine pool. The controversy is not the amount of money spent to build and fill it with wine. Rather, the real issue here is that it has initiated unlimited competition among pool owners.

The traditional Japanese bathing ritual reaches new boundaries every day. According to Tokyo Metropolis, the sumo-loving head of the northern Aomori prefecture recently decided to build a swimming pool. It was built inside a storage tank that previously stored more than 350 tons of French wine imported from 12 different Bordeaux (France) wineries. The spas and other baths around Japan are trying to outdo each other with unusual themes and various services.

Some employ models as attendants while others offer massages. This spa in Kanazawa has just one simple offering: Koshien no Yu or Wine Pool. Unlike other hot spring baths in Japan, this pool has a rather annoying novelty feature: it’s full of red wine. The water at this health centre is dyed red as a symbol of the blood-warming effect of saunas.


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This Day in Wine History

1953- Present: A Japanese company called Biltmore Co., founded in 1953, is located in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. This company’s central objective is to design and build the perfect places to relax and enjoy. To achieve the objective, the most crucial establishment they built is The Biltmore Hotel swimming pool. It provides a wonderful experience for every single person who visits it. It’s unique because it’s filled with wine, coffee, and tea!

February 12th, 2012: High school students from Tokyo and Yokohama teamed up with Saito Winery to build a swimming pool filled entirely with wine. The wine pool was set in a public bath on Tokyo’s Odaiba island and was a huge success. This contest is sponsored by Saito Winery, the country’s largest producer of table wines.

2017: La Piscine Anjou Wine Spa, the world’s first wine spa, opened in Kobe, Japan, in 2017. It is a swimming pool filled with wine, coffee, and tea. The 5-foot-deep pool is in an old warehouse with red bricks and wooden beams.

Reference

[1] “You can bathe in wine, coffee or green tea at this Japanese spa.” Lonely Planet, 17 September 2018, https://www.lonelyplanet.com/articles/bathe-in-wine-at-japanese-spa. Accessed 11 May 2022.

[2] Softky, Sophia. “Bathe In Tea, Sake, Coffee and Wine At This Japanese Spa.” AWOL, 22 April 2015, https://awol.junkee.com/bathe-in-tea-sake-coffee-and-wine-at-this-japanese-spa/6656. Accessed 11 May 2022.

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