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Japan spa busts boredom with hot spring water home deliveries amid pandemic

The poster for the hot spring water delivery service "Boring BATHters." (Image courtesy of Fukuya)

HIRAKAWA, Aomori -- A spa in this northeastern Japan city has begun delivering hot spring water to bring a little extra joy to people stuck at home amid the spread of the new coronavirus.

The Fukuya hot spring spa hopes the service -- dubbed "Boring BATHters" -- will help the facility retain customers and offer people battling the boredom of being cooped up inside a way to relax.

Kiyoto Mizuguchi, who heads the firm that operates Fukuya, named and created a marketing design for the service inspired by the 1980s smash-hit film "Ghostbusters." In the parody poster to promote the service, three men in work clothes and holding hoses are seen facing off against an unseen enemy.

Employees of the Fukuya hot spring fill a home bathtub with hot spring water from a tank carried on the back of a mini pickup truck, in Hirakawa, Aomori Prefecture, on April 11, 2020. (Mainichi/Yushi Ezawa)

As the virus spread in Japan, March sales at Fukuya fell about 40% from their usual level. An employee proposed, "Why don't we go to people's homes (to deliver hot spring water) if they can't come to the spa because they are refraining from going out?" and Fukuya launched the spring water delivery service in April as a compromise solution.

On April 10, a mini pickup truck carrying a tank of some 500 liters of hot spring water arrived at the home of Yuki Narumi, 28. Narumi, who has a 9-month-old daughter, said, "It was the first hot spring dip for my daughter. It's helpful that we can take a leisurely bath at home."

Mizuguchi said, "The service is easy to offer, so I hope spas in other areas will try it as well."

(Japanese original by Yushi Ezawa, Aomori Bureau)

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