Most unusually, it's been some time since I have seen my husband. Well before I got back from more than two weeks in New Zealand and Australia on Wednesday morning, he set off on an eating tour of Japan and Hong Kong, from which he will not return until next Wednesday. He has, however, filed this report of what he has been up to. Not many men are as honest as this about their visits to massage parlours - JR.
Just before I left for Tokyo a friend who had been there only a couple of months ago kindly gave me her copy of the Wallpaper guide to the city (£4.95). It proved most useful as it fits into a jacket pocket, contains a useful map at the back and has strong views on some of this city's impressive modern architecture.
But in the plane my eye was caught by the entry on pages 092 and 093, a double page spread dedicated to Adam & Eve, a hot spring, sauna and massage parlour with separate sections for men and women that is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Its other charm, the guide continued, is the no-nonsense Korean body scrub that sounded just the remedy for a jet lagged, sleep-deprived body.
Although the address in the guide may be right, 3-5-5 Nishi Azabu, it states that it is in the suburb of Minato-ku, whereas it is in fact only a five-minute walk from the very much better known Ropponghi Hills Tower, full of every international brand name under the sun. It is also directly opposite the monolithic Chinese Embassy so the immediate area is always crawling with police.
Adam & Eve occupies a triangular corner site (that was once, I am sure, envied by potential developers) that one enters from a steep set of stairs on the outside of the building. Once you have taken your shoes off, there is a cashier's desk and then women go off to the left, men to the right. The entry price is 3,800 yen and then the scrub another 4,000, a 40 minute shiatsu massage 5,000.
Past the changing room is the sauna, Turkish bath and hot and cold tubs. These last two take the shape of a ten-sided pool with the very hot to the left and the equally cold to the right (useful knowledge if, like me, you are lost without your glasses). You book your scrub or massage and then spend the time in here until you are called.
My body scrub was carried out by a woman who, although she did smile now and again, was in no doubt that she was the boss. Having handed me a pair of shorts through the curtain that separated her domain from the mens' pools, she then directed to me a bed and told me to lie down on my back. There then followed the most intense scrubbing, washing and dousing with water I have ever experienced. But it was terrific. Not only did it get rid of all the detritus of a bad cold followed by a long haul flight, it left my skin feeling cleaner and healthier than in a long time. Of course I have washed in the six days since I had the scrub but I do feel I need not have bothered.
I went back just before I left Tokyo for a massage and this was as good as the scrub. This return visit did verify one other comment in the guide: that one should not try to make eye contact with the joint's other habitués, who may well be covered in tattoos [more information, please - JR]. And so it proved. But as an insight to this unusual city, a trip to Adam & Eve should not be missed.
Adam & Eve
3-5-5 Nishi Azabu