Saturday, June 27, 2009

'Pygmy Piranha' Plague Tokyo Hot Springs

Ever had the compulsion to have your tender tootsies gnawed on by dozens of ravenous, pygmy piranha?

That’s not what they ask you when you first enter this retro-style bath and recreation Edo period onsen complex in the heart of Odaiba - Tokyo’s first hot springs theme park, Ooedo Onsen Monagatari, opened in 2003, with waters pumped from 1,400 meters beneath terra firma.

While these statistics and some bizarre carnival attractions bamboozle your senses, you’re likely (like me) to wander outside into their huge Japanese garden, there to discover the annex where they have a pool full of mini black fish.

Garra rufa obtuse (aka “doctor fish”) can live in waters over 40 degrees Celsius in heat, and are ready (and oh-so-willing) to cleanse your soles and give you a foot pedicure. Seems that they love dining on dead skin cells of the human body, and it’s likely they prefer international cuisine, since I had three times as many of these little fellas swarming all over my feet as any of the other clientele.

Insanely ticklish and - let’s face it - downright disturbing, you might come away with a creeped-out chill and a feeling that your toes have been violated, but your lower digits have never been softer or smoother.

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