Onsen’s of Kusatsu and German Doctor Erwin Von Baelz.
Kusatsu was an old post town and functioned as a mountain pass between Edo (Tokyo), Kyoto and Osaka.
German doctor Erwin Von Baelz and Dr Julius Scriba were internal medicine and surgical doctors, they both contributed to the Meji period working at Tokyo University.
Dr Baelz arrived in Japan in 1876 and continued on for 30 years, during his time in Japan, he visited Kusatsu and had witnessed the healing effects of people with leprosy from a colony close by, every day leper’s were bathing in the water.
Dr Baelz returned to Tokyo, started to research geothermal waters. He continued back and forth to the mountains of Kusatsu in 1878 and started medical research on how the minerals of Kusatsu’s waters could heal, esp disease of the skin and immune.
Long before Dr Baelz started research on Kusatsu Samurai warriors had been using Onsen’s through Japan to heal wounds and disease. Kusatsu was known to be one of the most powerful, and was rumored to heal all disease.
Ōtani Yoshitsuga a famous samurai of the Sengoku era suffered from leprosy bathed in Kusatsu to maintain health to fight wars for years to follow.
Dr Erwin Baelz and Dr Skriba carries out extensive research and testing of geothermal water to see what effect it had on disease.
The research led to the findings of the highest levels of acidic, Sulphur, Chloride and Salt. Bathing conditions, mountain air, spiritual connections and the highest temperature possible to activate immune response.
Bathing times were also tested a group of Okinawan Soldiers joined the camp in 1899, as Japan had an outbreak of leprosy and syphilis, difficult to control.
This research of bathing times Dr Baelz discovered that sitting in the water at the hottest level possible around 48deg 3 times a day for up to 3 minutes. Morning, Noon, Night.
Today 3min morning, noon and night is called (Toji) for a number of 5 days. The optimal beneficial to overall health, working the immune system to start fighting disease and allows minerals to penetrate through the skin.
After the findings Dr Baelz wrote, manuscripts and published a book detailing how Kusatsu and many other Onsens throughout Japan with similar qualities could be used for medical purpose.
Dr received from the Emperor of Japan the highest medal of recognition for the discovery to the outside world of medical and cultural heritage Onsen Volcanic Water for Healing in Japan.
Dr Baelz continued on with his work visiting many other Onsen villages naming them medical and sister onsens, these all have mountains, waters, altitude and strong spiritual connections.
Sister Onsens in Japan:
– Noboribetsu City, Hokkaido.
– Arima Village, Kobe Hyogo Prefecture.
– Gero Town, Gifu Prefecture.
– Kusatsu Village, Gunma Prefecture.
In 1996 an agreement was signed for the purpose of mutual understanding of history and traditions with all villages above.
This was the beginnings of Medical Onsen Therapy and how Japan uses nature’s geothermal medicine.
You can buy Dr Baelz published book online through amazon but this is at a huge price, estimation $1500 above.