The sauna is known around the world as a relaxing place for the body and mind. However, there are exciting differences in sauna bathing styles and environments between sauna cultures in different countries, and in this blog we bring out some of them.
Finnish sauna culture emphasises relaxation
In December 2020, the Finnish sauna tradition was added to the list of intangible cultural heritage of UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, which means that the state and various sauna operators have taken responsibility for protecting this valuable tradition of ours.
In Finland, the sauna is seen as an oasis of well-being that cleanses the body and mind. According to a study commissioned by researchers at the University of Vaasa, the most ideal location for Finns is close to nature and by the water, which is linked to the importance of the sauna as a kind of silence. We feel how everyday worries and stress evaporate to the background when sitting in the heat of the benches. The interior of the sauna with its details, such as upholstery and lighting, is also seen as an integral part of the sauna experience.
A sauna located at home or at a cottage is not a specialty for Finns at all, and sauna bathing is very important for many people in everyday life. Finns bathe free-form and without a hurry. Steam is thrown according to your taste and bathers can enjoy sitting on sauna benches for a longer time. Especially at the summer cottage, you use to go to the sauna several times while swimming and relaxing on the terrace. Public saunas and changing rooms usually have their own sides for women and men, and on the sauna benches you use to sit without swimwear. Benches are protected from sweat and moisture with either a peflet or a towel.
We Finns have a particularly good understanding of the importance of ventilation in the sauna and its impact on the sauna experience. Bathing does not make you tired if the breathing air remains fresh. Ventilation is one of the most important things to consider when designing a sauna also at Cariitti.
Hourglass timing German sauna bathing
German spas usually have unisex dressing rooms, which means that both women’s and men’s lockers are located in the same space. Clothes are changed in locker rooms. While Finns bathe according to their own taste, Germans sit on benches for only 15 minutes at a time. The passage of time is monitored from the hourglass in the sauna. The specialties of German sauna culture also include a sauna master who is a member of the spa staff and is responsible for throwing water to the heater at regular intervals. The customers of the spa will not be able to throw water themselves, which may surprise us Finns in particular. The sauna heater is often located behind a wall in a German sauna, which is why the air in the sauna is relatively dry.
German spas often have a separate relaxation area with sun loungers, where an easygoing day is spent lying and perhaps reading. A whole day is often reserved for a spa trip. A successful spa trip is ensured by careful packing of a spa bag: First of all, a towel of good size must be included to spread on the sauna benches so that no part of the body comes into contact with the benches. Separate towels are also needed to dry the body and hair, and possibly also the feet. Bath slippers, washing accessories and a lunch package with food and drinks go with them in a large spa bag.
The Russians are fans of sauna whisks
The traditional and usually wood-heated Russian sauna called Banja stands out with its heat and humidity. Banjas are usually common saunas with back washers and masseurs. Russia also has many electric saunas that resemble our Finnish saunas, in hotels, gyms and also in private homes.
Sauna whisks play an important role in Russian sauna culture. Sauna whisks are first put in cold water to soak, which makes using whisks refreshing, especially when sitting in the hot and humid steam of a traditional banja. Russian sauna rituals also include a sauna hat soaked in cold water, which protects especially the ears in high heat.
Dry steam by Japanese
Japanese people often book an entire day for their spa visit, and usually men and women bath and go to the sauna separately. The Japanese sauna stands out with its drought, with the humidity being only about 10%. The electric heater is often placed in a place where water cannot even be thrown to it. The Japanese spa has both cold and warm pools of water, where you can go to refresh while enjoying a sauna. By the way, did you know that Japanese people often watch TV when they go to the sauna?
The Japanese’s interest in saunas is growing all the time. Cariitti has been making the Finnish sauna familiar with its magnificent sauna complex and its presence in the Metsä Pavilion in the Area of the Embassy of Finland in Tokyo, operated by Business Finland.
Are you a fan of saunas, too? Cariitti offers solutions for the comprehensive interior design of sauna facilities. Please contact us and we will start planning a sauna package that meets your needs.