In Kami-Amakusa, Kumamoto, there is a place named Spa Thalasso. It sits among the gorgeous and rural landscape atop a large hill. A gigantic observation deck shaped like a sail stands next to the building. From the top, you can see across the sparkling Shimabara Bay and the view is breathtaking.
We pulled up to Spa Thalasso and the three of us (myself and my friends Chris and Melissa) got out to walk around and take in the view. After, we entered the spa to fulfill the task we had come for.
“There it is,” my friend Melissa pointed to a long tank at the end of the spacious lobby. We hurriedly removed our flip-flops and threw them into the cubbies that were provided at the entrance; I didn’t bother taking the slippers that were provided.
The three of us eagerly walked over to the low tank, my feet slapping happily against the shiny linoleum. Looking down into the water, I saw what had to be dozens of tiny silver fish darting through the water. “I didn’t expect there to be so many!” I exclaimed to Melissa. She nodded sagely and giggled. “Just wait.”
Of all the treatments that Spa Thelasso had to offer, Dr. Fish has to be by far the strangest. The first time I heard about it, I knew that it was something that I needed to experience.
The procedure is simple: you pay about ten dollars, place your feet into the tanks and the fish inside swim over you to clean (read: eat) off dead skin cells and whatever else they might be able to glean from your podiatric crevices. It’s very unconventional, possibly a bit unsanitary and, to me, very intriguing.
With a quick tutorial that I didn’t understand (how hard could it be?!), the staff member sat me in the chair. I was ready to experience this odd pedicure – my first one ever. A bit hesitantly, I lowered my feet into the water. The fish scattered away immediately but then, seeming to realize that my feet were food, swarmed them. As soon as they latched on to my feet, toes and ankles though, I immediately burst out in a fit of laughter.
Looking back on it, I can’t believe I overlooked just how incredibly ticklish I am. Ticklish to the point that it’s more ‘anxiety-inducing’ to me than ‘fun’. So much so that I have no qualms about punching whatever unlucky fool thinks they’re being cute by trying to tickle me.
So what would possess me to do something like this? In the back of my mind, I’m sure my brain was trying to send signals about how bad of an idea Dr. Fish was. I, unfortunately, never got the memo.
I continued to erupt in laughter and before long, people in the lobby of the spa began to stare. Next to me, Chris was grinning and chuckling slightly “this is WEIRD!” he exclaimed. And it was. It was very weird.
Unfortunately, I could not stop laughing and squirming. A few times, I kicked my feet frantically, driving the fish from their dead skin buffet. At one point, I even had to take my feet out of the water because it was tickling so bad.
The feeling of them swimming all over your feet and grazing on them doesn’t hurt, but it definitely feels…strange. For me, it was almost torturous to feel the tiny fish nibbling between my toes and on my ankles.
The whole thing only lasted about five minutes, but it felt like an eternity. I have to say that afterwards, I didn’t notice any noticeable difference in my feet. Maybe they were softer? I couldn’t really say.
All in all, Dr. Fish was a very…interesting experience. I’m glad I did it and I recommend it to anyone who’s not afraid to try something new and strange! However, be warned: if you’re ticklish, it’s going to be tough.