Nestled amidst the hustle and bustle of the infamous and chaotic Kabukicho section of Tokyo’s Shinjuku ward sits a peaceful little slice of Thailand. Easy to miss in the clutter of large colorful signs and flashing neon lights Asian Relax offers massages with a little something extra to customers who are able to find their way inside of the shop.
It’s not that Asian Relax is an especially difficult place to locate. It’s just that Shinjuku in general and Kabukicho specifically seem to be places that leave a lot of foreigners and even some locals lost most than found. Luckily Asian Relax is located right on the main strip and has a sign outside on the street to make things easier. Those who use the map on the shop’s website should have no problem.
Asian Relax is relatively nice and quiet considering where it is located. The shop is a little small and cramped but those used to Tokyo won’t be surprised in the least. In fact they might not even notice it. In any event there’s certainly more room to maneuver at Asian Relax than there is at a place like the nearby New Hot Point.
The name of the game at Asian Relax is Traditional Thai Massage. I don’t know how “traditional” the rub downs at Asian Relax are, but I do know that the women who perform them are from Thailand. The owner of the parlor is apparently a Japanese gentlemen who married a Thai woman and set up shop. Operating openly in Tokyo the place is licensed and legal and it recruits Thai women to work.
The astute reader may notice by now that Asian Relax sounds a lot like the nearby Asian Feeling which I reviewed back in July. There’s a very good reason for that. Asian Relax and Asian Feeling have the same management and operate as sister shops. What this means is that the women who work these shops rotate between the two so that a gal may be at Asian Feeling on Monday and then put in a shift at Asian Relax on Tuesday.
Those who like the looks of a specific woman on staff at either shop need not worry much. A schedule is posted on the website that indicates which women are at which shops at any given time. Those who show up unaware can even request that a gal currently at the other shop come over to provide service. As long as the 1000 Yen ($10 US) nomination fee is paid and the woman in question is free this is usually no problem.
Customers who don’t have a specific lady in mind won’t have to shell out the nomination fee. Instead they’ll just pay for a massage. The going rate for a sixty minute powder massage is 9000 Yen, which comes out to be just under 90 US dollars at current exchange rates. Thai and oil massages are also available at different rates and customers can even opt for massages as long as 120 minutes if they’d like.
Asian Relax shares a business model and even a staff with Asian Feeling but the shop itself is a bit different. The protocol is the same. The customer chooses a massage and pays his fee. Then he kicks off his shoes and heads to his nice and neat room. Soon his masseuse will enter and take him to the shower where she’ll wash the accumulated urban filth from his skin before taking him back to the room. As he settles in she’ll retrieve a cup of tea for him. After he drinks up and lays down she’ll commence to give him the kind of rub down he selected. The standard back rub will lead to a front rub which will be concluded by the soft and skilled hands of the masseuse. Somethings other body parts like legs and forearms are used but the same result is always achieved. Relieved of stress and bodily fluids the customer will be allowed to rest a bit before being taken back for another shower, dressed and then finally escorted back to the entrance to head back out into the urban jungle.
Well, that’s almost correct. Standard service at Asian Relax also includes a full body shampoo and a steam towel service. These feel like genuine benefits rather than bits tacked on simply to jack up the price. There is an additional 500 Yen ($5 US) fee for these services though, which means that customers who are budget minded may want to head to Asian Feeling instead. Those who put no price on comfort and quality will probably find the little extras to their liking. The mirrored walls in the rooms at Asian Relax are also a nice touch.
This video gives a brief glimpse of what’s available:
As a long-established massage parlor with reliable services that is more than happy to accept non-Japanese customers, Asian Relax can be an easy choice for many punter. Sharing an owner with Asian Feeling and offering a very similar service from the same exact staff the reader may expect that I would give this shop the same three-and-a-half star score. While I think that Asian Relax offers a better service and better facilities I simply can’t justify giving it four stars. It’s a nice place and I think a star above average suits it well.
Asian Relax, Shinjuku-ku, Kabuki-cho 1-23-13 Daiichi Otaki-bldg 2F, Tokyo, Japan. Open seven days a week, noon to 5 am. Phone: 03-3207-5527 Website: http://www.asian-feeling.net Map on site.