Soaking in Sake: Japan’s Answer to the Red Wine Bath

(Photo: Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott)

It was Thomas Jefferson who supposedly said that “good wine is a necessity of life.” Somehow, I don’t think bathing in his happy hour drink was quite what he had in mind. But it feels even more essential if it’s not only part of our diets, but also our beauty routines, right?

Basketballer Amar’e Stoudemire set the Internet abuzz in October when he posted a selfie on Instagram from a tub brimming with red wine. But we’ve since moved on to another kind of alcohol-infused experience: the sake soak. The beverage made from fermented rice is known to brighten, moisturize, and smooth the skin when applied topically. SK-II, a beauty insider favorite, built its brand on sake’s rejuvenating abilities after scientists noticed the soft, youthful hands of the sake brewers (a stark contrast to their wrinkled faces). After figuring out that the yeast from the fermentation process was the secret, the company isolated the strain, and their magic ingredient—Pitera—was born. Fresh took cues from the ancient rituals of Japanese Geishas to create its Sake Bath, a formula containing sake, ginger root extract, and sesame seed oil.

SK-II Facial Treatment Essence, $195; and Fresh Sake Bath, $80;

Now, the spa at the new, über-luxe Aman Tokyo resort, is adding sake to its menu. The 90-minute treatment kicks off with a foot bath comprised of hot water, sake koji paste, and Japanese sea salt. This is followed by a body wrap made of Japanese rice bran, clay, yuzu (a citrus fruit packed with skin-brightening vitamin C), ginger, and pine essential oils. Post full-body massage, you’ll leave feeling as if you spent a week in the renowned soaking tubs of Kyoto. We can’t imagine a better way to relax after a bout of power shopping at the new Herzog & de Meuron-designed Miu Miu boutique.

To book an appointment at the Aman Tokyo Spa, call (81) 03 5224 3344 or e-mail To soak in the benefits of sake at home, visit and

By Kristin Tice Studeman

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