Amidst the World Championships, Discover the Lucrative Potential of a Heat Wave Expert | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Amidst the World Championships, Discover the Lucrative Potential of a Heat Wave Expert

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With the sauna boom gaining attention, there’s a focus on “heat wave experts” known as Aufgüssers. Recently, events led by Aufgüssers have been held in various locations, contributing to the attraction of saunas. In the case of popular figures, their appointments fill up quickly. While Aufgüssers are gradually becoming celebrities, what exactly is this profession? We asked Satoshi, a leading Aufgüsser in Japan, for some insights.

Satoshi Chopstick Resting of the comedy duo “Shicho,” one of Japan’s leading aufgieser.

In fact, Japan’s “Aufgusser” is one of the best in the world.

What are Aufguss, Aufguss Masters, and heat wave experts, anyway?

“In a sauna, heating stones in a bucket and pouring water over them to create steam is called Aufguss, and using a towel to fan the steam is also known as Aufguss. The person who directs the steam towards the customers is referred to as a heat wave expert or Aufgüsser.

In Japan, they are often called Aufguss Masters, while overseas, the common term is Aufgussmeister.”

This was explained to us by Satoshi, who was quick to recognize the appeal of Aufguss in Japan. Alongside his activities as a member of the comedy duo ‘Shichou,’ Satoshi serves as an Aufguss Master at Sky Spa YOKOHAMA. Since transitioning from a professional career to a comedian in 2009, he has been a pioneering figure in the world of Aufguss Masters.

After attending the Aufguss World Championships (AufgussWM) held in Poland in 2019, Satoshi became involved in organizing the Japanese competition, the “Aufguss Championship Japan (ACJ),” which serves as the qualifying tournament. He has also participated in the competition as a contestant.

Currently, as the leader of the “Aufguss Professional Team,” he is actively engaged in spreading the culture of Aufguss throughout Japan.

Satoshi Chopstick Rest (center photo), comedian and leader of the Aufgoose Professional Team

“Our Aufguss is like a kind of show, where we use towels to fan the steam while incorporating acting to match the music. I believe there are also a certain number of customers who come specifically for the show itself.”

When Satoshi first encountered Aufguss, he would simply send waves of heat while shouting phrases like “Let’s sweat!” There was no storytelling show, and they didn’t even incorporate aromas or music.

“Over the past 13 years, Aufguss has changed drastically, and the number of people participating in and enjoying Aufguss has increased. ACJ celebrated its second year last year, and we had entries from over 100 pairs nationwide. This is more than double the number compared to the qualifiers in other countries.”

Mr. Kurokawa himself participated in last year’s ACJ, won the playoffs, and qualified for the AWM finals.

Satoshi, taking a moment to reflect, says, “The spread of Aufguss in Japan is remarkable. In just about ten years, the technique of Aufguss in Japan has evolved rapidly. Last year at the AWM, we even managed to surpass the European teams and clinch victory in the team competition.”

“The enthusiasm for Aufguss in Japan is incredibly high. Most of the players who entered the AWM are staff members of various sauna facilities. Some facilities even actively set aside practice time for qualifiers, giving it a feeling similar to that of a corporate sports team.”


Japanese Aufguss Masters are becoming more like entertainers.

While the population of Aufguss Masters is increasing, what about it as a profession?

“Both overseas and in Japan, most Aufguss Masters are staff members of sauna facilities. However, overseas, many Aufguss Masters transition into education, sauna production, or facility management after retiring from competitive play.

On the other hand, in Japan, Aufguss Masters often become more like individual talents even before retiring. They participate in sauna events held in various locations nationwide.”

In other countries, I appear at events at my sauna, but I almost never travel to other saunas to do events.

It seems that appearing at events in sauna facilities where they are not affiliated is rare even on a global scale. Currently, Japanese Aufguss Masters are in a transitional period, wondering if they can make a living solely from this profession.

“Japan has a high level of expertise in Aufguss, as evidenced by teams winning at AufgussWM in just their second year. However, unlike overseas, where there are many large-scale saunas, it’s difficult to maintain a stable income from events alone. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of Aufguss Masters I know who are able to make a living solely from this profession.”

Japan’s first large sauna that can accommodate 100 people (“Sauna Theater” in SKY SPA YOKOHAMA)

While making a living solely as an Aufguss Master may have its challenges, the spread of Aufguss within Japan has been remarkable in the past two to three years, with a significant increase in both participants and enthusiasts.

Furthermore, as the COVID-19 situation stabilizes, there has been a gradual emergence of super sento (large public bathhouses) equipped with large saunas. Some of these facilities can accommodate up to 100 people.

“In the future, with the continued emergence of large saunas and the proper cultivation of Aufguss Masters who can fill events at these venues, I believe we will see an increase in the number of individuals who can make a living solely from Aufguss, as long as they can retain their fan base.”



A new challenge: “Training Aufguss Masters.”

Aufguss Masters hold untapped potential, but it’s also emphasized that “even a slight mistake could lead to accidents, so it’s crucial to undergo proper training and gain experience.”


“There are many things to be mindful of, such as the effects of the aromas used, the amount of water poured over the stones, and more.

If too much water is poured, it can lead to excessive steam and an increase in temperature. Additionally, the way steam spreads can vary depending on the shape and size of the sauna.

Furthermore, since wood and stone have different thermal conductivity, Aufguss Masters need to pay attention to these details while considering how to wield the towels.”

Overseas, there are saunas that can accommodate up to 300 people. Overseas, there are saunas that can accommodate up to 300 people, and I would like to see the same level of large saunas in Japan.

Taking this as a foundation, incorporating elements such as aroma, music, towel techniques, costumes, and makeup one by one, eventually elevates it into a cohesive show. Then, competitions like ACJ and AWM become within reach.

“I believe those with a high level of hospitality are more likely to level up in Aufguss. Players who excel in Europe are generally kind-hearted individuals, and in Japan, many popular Aufguss Masters known for their events are also perceived as kind. If you have the motivation and desire to bring joy to others, it’s never too late to start.”

In the future, to establish Aufguss as a cultural phenomenon in Japan, the Aufguss Professional Team plans to start online education.

“There are aspiring individuals nationwide, so our team members will serve as instructors for online classes, and we’ll also conduct certification exams in various locations. Upon passing the exam, participants will receive a certificate of completion.

To be honest, Aufguss can be physically demanding (*laughs*), but it’s incredibly fun and rewarding. It’s a growing genre where anyone can start, and everyone can develop hospitality skills step by step. So, if you have even a little interest, I encourage you to give it a try.”

  • Interview and text Motoko Abekawa

    Satoshi is a freelance writer, working mainly on the web. He is also involved in the production of books and corporate PR magazines. She does not specialize in any particular field, but covers a wide range of topics that intrigue her, including history, comedy, health, beauty, travel, gourmet food, and nursing care.

  • PHOTO Kenji Kawato Interview Cooperation Sky Spa YOKOHAMA

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