Featured Image for In Japan, people relax by wrapping themselves like a sack of potatoes

In Japan, people relax by wrapping themselves like a sack of potatoes

There’s a brand new way to relax in Japan. In the Land of the Rising Sun, people don’t chill just by watching Netflix. They tightly wrap themselves in a giant piece of cloth for 20 minutes. No, really.

This trend was created in 2015 by Japanese midwife Nobuko Watanabe, who happens to be the same mind behind another particular invention, the Toco-Chan maternity belt. (which is basically a wonder bra for a pregnant tummy)

‘Otona maki’ (おとなまき) or ‘adult wrapping’, supposedly reduces stress and induces the patient into a state of relaxation by rearranging the body into the fetal position. The idea is to return our state of mind to a mood of safety and tranquility, reminiscent to the time when we were inside the womb.

The idea for Otonamaki comes from Ohinamaki, a practice which sees babies wrapped up in cloth in the same fashion. Advocates of Ohinamaki say this helps babies with their physical development. Somehow.

Orie Matsuo, from Kyoko Proportion, one of the several companies that offer Otonamaki, told the BBC:

“By pushing your shoulders and legs together, your body gets straightened and removes the pain of your back, lower back and hip joint.” She added, “Some of our clients come to treat their pelvis after childbirth, or others to fix bow legs.”

But it seems not everybody agrees on this curious approach. According to Mr Visvanathan Ravi, Senior Physiotherapist at Hallmark Physiotherapy, “They way they were wrapped up may lead to muscle strains if not in the short term, but the long term.

“If a person stays in the position for 30 minutes, I’m sure there will be spine problems. It’s not advisable to do this treatment. I totally disagree with the treatment method.”

So remember kids, always ask your physician before deciding to let someone wrap you in a sack. Being a fan of Asian horror is one thing, but turning yourself into a character straight out of a Takashi Miike movie is quite another.