A dash of Japan in Jaffa

The Yoko Kitahara spa provides an experience unlike many others in Israel

JAFFA’s YOKO KITAHARA SPA – an indulgent treat. (photo credit: Courtesy)
JAFFA’s YOKO KITAHARA SPA – an indulgent treat.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
It may be a little difficult to find the Yoko Kitahara spa. But once you step inside its doors, in a quiet alleyway in old Jaffa, the outdoors will melt away as you immerse yourself in a relaxing, Japanese-tinged sanctuary.
The experience begins from the moment you walk in, when you’re asked to slip off your shoes and put on a pair of disposable slippers. Before enjoying the service you’ve booked, guests are treated to a cup of Japanese green tea and a hot foot bath with essential oils. The greeting was welcome on a cold, rainy day, though it might be less so in the steamy summer heat of Tel Aviv.
No matter the weather, the interiors of Yoko Kitahara are stunning, with high, arched ceilings, minimalist yet exquisite decor and an air of complete serenity. On nicer days, guests can relax on the spa’s roof – with an incredible sea view – after their treatments.
I was treated to the spa’s signature massage, the 75-minute Hogushi Aroma, which costs NIS 410. Nothing in this well-appointed spa comes cheap, with a facial for NIS 460, a 90-minute herbal massage for NIS 610 and a two-hour full body treatment for NIS 840.
The treatment rooms are also minimalist, with muted lighting, quiet flute music and a nice added touch of heated mattress pads on the tables. The massage itself was extremely relaxing, with a range of essential oils and attention paid from head to toe. The well-trained staff is happy to focus on or avoid whichever parts of the body you indicate.
Yoko herself, a native of Tokyo, has been living in Israel for a decade, and opened her first spa several years ago before moving to the current, more spacious location in Jaffa in 2016. Her husband, Liran, said the space is Japanese in influence but combines Yoko’s sensibilities with touches of Jaffa and Mediterranean culture. He noted that the spa’s clientele is almost exclusively Israelis and few tourists, and they have relied on word of mouth to find customers.
This unique spot is certainly a memorable experience when you’re looking for an indulgent treat.
Yoko Kitahara
Kikar Kedumim 5, Jaffa
The writer was a guest of the spa.