"Perfect Sweat" Series Begins Filming in Japan

Episode Directed by Anthony Bourdain Fixer Michiko Zentoh
Bray's Run Productions
2019-03-29 20:47 1613

TOKYO, March 29, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- The "Perfect Sweat" series, in cooperation with Bray's Run and Zentoh Associates, began filming this week at the Finnish Sauna Village in Nagano, Japan. Michiko Zentoh, known for his work on Anthony Bourdain's "A Cook's Tour" and "No Reservations," directs the episode.

In this episode, photojournalist Mikkel Aaland, author of the 1978 classic, "Sweat," returns after 44 years to the land of heavenly steam to witness Japanese people successfully integrating ancient bathing rituals and beliefs into modern every-day life. His guide /co-host for this episode is Miki Tokairin, a young writer and photographer who has extensively documented Japanese and world bathing cultures.

In this episode we will see a popular gathering of young people in the heart of Tokyo as they enjoy a pop-up tent sauna set-up directly beneath a railway track. We will join a group of "Sauna Ambassadors" from all over Japan as they sample a variety of Finnish saunas, including a "savusauna" (smoke sauna), considered by bathing connoisseurs as the greatest sauna of all. 

We will follow a trained Shugendo priest in Yamagata (northwest Honshu) as he uses sweat and steam and smoke rituals to connect him with sacred mountains and nature. At the Suwa-jinja Shrine in Hakone, in the shadow of Mt. Fuji, we will witness a dramatic Shinto ritual that calls on heavenly steam to bring good luck and health to dozens of onlookers. In Kyoto we will find ancient Buddhist steam baths (mushi-buro) and kiln baths (kama-buro), used centuries before the first Finnish style sauna landed on Japanese soil.

We will meet one of Japan's most successful spa owners who is leading a popular movement to bring nature to the middle of the city via unique sweat bathing experiences. And finally, we will visit a small town in Kagawa on the Inland Sea, where a community is asking the municipal government to keep a popular 1300-year-old kara-furo (hot air stone bath) in operation.

About the series

Throughout recorded human history, the sweat bath has comforted, healed, and strengthened the social bonds between rich and poor, young and old, strong and the weak. In Finland and much of the modern world, the sweat bath is known as the sauna. But the sauna is only part of the picture. In the middle east the sweat bath is known as the hammam, in Mexico the temescal, in Russia the banya, among Native Americans, it is known as the sweat lodge, and in Japan the kara-furo and mushi-buro. Each bathing culture has its passionate devotees, unique history, rituals, and architecture.

Now, in this documentary series, sweat bathing guru Aaland teams up with local guides and retraces his steps in search of the perfect sweat. What he finds is an explosive rebirth of the ancient bathing traditions, traditions which include community rituals that are meant to revive the human spirit and change the world. So sit back and relax, and travel with us on this amazing and unique adventure!

Who we are:

Bray's Run Productions

Bray's Run Productions is a Seattle-based independent film production company founded by Greg Moga that specializes in exploring culture, history and travel through the prism of charismatic people across the globe. We open doors into aspects of culture that traditional media has overlooked.

Mikkel Aaland, producer / host

Mikkel Aaland is an award-winning photojournalist and the best-selling author of fifteen books. Aaland's best-known book is the 1978 classic best seller "Sweat, the illustrated history and description of the Finnish sauna, Russian Banya, Islamic Hamman, Japanese mushi-buro, Mexican Temescal and American Indian & Eskimo sweat lodge."

Miki Tokairin, co-host/guide Japan

Miki Tokairin is young Japanese writer and photographer who has made the study of bathing and culture a big part of her life. Her bathing studies and photographs have been widely published.

Source: Bray's Run Productions