In recent years, Japan has seen something of an unprecedented boom when it comes to the sauna industry. As a country full of people who often enjoy refreshing forest-bathing walks or relaxing amongst onsen waters, the growing interest in sauna comes as no real surprise. Japan Sauna and Hot and Cold Bath Research Institute even held a survey earlier this year and estimated that the number of people who enjoy the benefits of sauna sessions four or more times per month is around 3.39 million.

With more saunas popping up across the country faster than ever, sauna enthusiasts are starting to turn their attention towards the more unique and interesting locations to unwind at. One of the more unexpected venues is the brand new mobile sauna ‘Sabus’ – a retired public city bus that has been renovated into a sauna on wheels.

Currently under development the project, which is overseen and run by Hyogo based transportation company Shinki Bus, is scheduled to be in service by February of next year. Once completed, the mobile sauna will be available for hire and is expected to be utilised by companies and businesses which have large parking spaces or outdoor facilities on the premises.

The concept itself was drawn up in response to drastic decreases in public transport users due to a declining population and an increase in private car users, as well as issues related to the coronavirus pandemic such as when individuals we’re discouraged to travel during the state of emergencies, and changes to the lifestyles of workers as they adjusted to working from home.
With nothing being done, the decrease in users has put a strain on the bus industry, and it has become necessary to create a variety of new sources of income. That’s why Shinki Bus has decided to adapt one of their retired vehicles into something that can provide so much more than just being a large moving vehicle.

Consisting of two separate areas, Sabus comes with an office space and a resting place towards the front of the vehicle, and a sauna room with a full-scale wooden heater located at the back. Not forgetting its origins, Sabus features designs that hint at it’s former life as a public transport vehicle, and is fitted with a destination sign reading ‘SAUNA’, hanging rings to hold onto, bench seats and ‘alight’ buttons which when pressed will generate steam into the sauna room.

Further details regarding the price for hire, how many people can board and whether or not the mobile sauna comes with a private chauffeur are yet to be announced, but for now you can keep an eye on the official website and stay up to date with the progression of the project.

By - Connie Sceaphierde.