And boy did we sweat!

These days, saunas are all the rage in Japan, but they can be quite expensive to visit. Even when they’re affordable, some people prefer to bathe in the privacy of their own homes, though, so that’s why products like the “Steam Sauna Esthe Poncho” exist.

Our Japanese-language reporter (and low-rated product tester) Masanuki Sunakoma spotted this online and decided to give it a try. At first, he wasn’t entirely impressed with the product–“Isn’t this just a poncho you wear in the bath?”–but eventually, he was drawn in by its positive reviews, which included feedback like, “It made me sweat a lot”, “I use it every day”, and “It turns my bathroom into a tiny sauna.” Plus, it was only 1,500 yen (US$11.32).

Masanuki previously had great success creating a sauna in his bathroom with the Sauna Umbrella. It sat on his bathtub’s rim and trapped the steam from his bath, which made him sweat bullets. If he had one complaint about the Sauna Umbrella, though, it was that it wasn’t especially nice to look at.

The Steam Sauna Esthe Poncho was different from the umbrella in that it was something you wear rather than something you put in your bathroom. As such, Masanuki had higher expectations for its capacity to make him sweat. It seemed easier to maintain too; you just had to wipe the moisture from it and hang it up to dry, then fold it into a compact square and store it. That was probably one reason it was so popular.

However, when Masanuki unfolded the poncho…

The hot pink color just about slapped him in the face.

He’d known it was pink when he ordered it, of course. He just didn’t realize how pink. But though it wasn’t exactly a color he would have chosen given the chance, he didn’t especially mind wearing it. It wasn’t like he planned to go to a public bath wearing it anyway.

The interior was made of a polyurethane coating, which is said to trap heat, and the front of the poncho sealed together with velcro strips. It seemed like a simple but effective beauty product, so Masanuki was excited to try it.

According to the product’s website, the recommended use is 15-20 minutes per day. Masanuki pulled it on and hopped in the bath.

He immediately began to sweat. He’d never had a product that so perfectly met his expectations before. It was like wearing a sauna suit–you know, the kind pro martial artists use in the bath when they want to lose weight? Maybe that’s not something everyone would be familiar with, but that’s what Masanuki suspected this was like.

He wasn’t a huge fan of how the poncho stuck to his skin in some places, but it definitely made him sweat. He would, without a doubt, deem this a product that easily creates a sauna-like experience in your own home. If you’re someone who likes to take long baths, this could be the product for you.

Tokyo in particular has a plethora of great saunas, including this beautiful place near JR Tamachi Station on the Yamanote line, so if you want to go out and experience a real sauna, there are plenty of opportunities. But if you want to stay close to home and get a good sweat on, this might be a product worth considering!

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