Ryoko Hori is deeply connected to the clients she sees at her Senses Salon in Neukölln, Berlin that she moved into with partner Daniel Kula in 2015. With the experience she has of her training as a beauty therapist in Japan, remedial massage therapist in Australia, Aromatherapist and her understanding of holistic practices such as Ayurveda, Seitai (a Japanese self-healing method) and Reiki she works with the skin as the largest organ of the body to understand our true inner condition, giving her clients the ultimate sensory experience through touch and smell.
Ryoko and I have now shared many cherished moments together over Hojicha tea and I’ve been lucky enough to experience several of her many facial treatments and massages first-hand – she is as strong in her touch as she is sensitive in her speech. Ryoko is humble and she clearly defines herself as a facilitator who presents opportunities that help her clients with their own healing and self-awareness.
To support the body with detoxification this spring, Ryoko has shared a self-care toolkit consisting of three recipes with Foodadit. The combination of the Footbath technique, Hot Towel Treatment and Detox Blend Oil helps to eliminate toxins and improves both blood and lymphatic drainage. During the winter our body naturally tends to take energy in and becomes heavy. With spring finally being here, now is the right time to detox and release this accumulated energy.
Read our interview below to find out more about Ryoko.
Where does the idea for the Salon for the Senses come from?
The salon developed naturally as I was always interested in the connection between the body and the mind, even when I was working in the fashion industry. In the beginning, I was more concentrated on facial treatments and working with my hands. We often forget that it’s easy to think and to judge, rather than rely on our senses – and this was a very special experience for me. It was a different part of the brain that I hadn’t used before.
You talk about the individual as an organism with the ability to heal itself when it achieves physical and mental balance. How do you establish this dialogue with the body to encourage healing in your clients?
It’s very interesting as the body is really telling. Somehow, it’s easy to understand because I’m looking at the body as my clients are lying down and you begin to notice things about people’s personality, injuries if they have any, tissue, posture, and sometimes complex trauma. I use the knowledge I have learnt with the different techniques to work intuitively with my clients – many of whom allow me to react to what I see as their needs.
When it comes to the senses, the more our brains are working, the more we can forget to feel without analysing or take things as they are – it is not easy because there is always a form of pre-judgement. For me it’s very important to feel rather than speaking and analysing. Sometimes the body needs or responds well to a particular smell for instance, and as an Aromatherapist I understand that smell is an important part of the experience, it provides an opportunity to connect to the brain through memory and emotions. We often forget that we smell before thinking.
…as an Aromatherapist I understand that smell is an important part of the experience, it provides an opportunity to connect to the brain through memory and emotions. We often forget that we smell before thinking.
Do you find being a practitioner is an emotional experience?
Yes, but less and less now than I did when I was starting. In the beginning I didn’t know how to deal with people’s emotions and it was very hard sometimes to disconnect. I thought I was just too sensitive. With Reiki, I’m like a tube and this helps to remind me with my massage therapy that I’m not a healer, I’m just a channel. I see that I’m just helping in a small way and it could be that I’m just bringing a small sense of awareness to the person. That’s why it’s up to the person at the end as it’s their body – I’m just lucky to be a helper.
How important is it that you use an oil that you have made?
Very important, because I like to use things that I know what went into it. When I think about massage, it’s about understanding the body rather than about technique and it’s the same with oil, because it’s like eating – it’s absorbing through the tissue.
How do you source your ingredients?
I want to work with producers who are authentic and because of globalisation they are becoming minorities – so I also ‘need’ to work with them. It can be very easy to source some ingredients, especially in Europe and France where you know there is more information required about how things have been produced. Though, I went to India to look for essential oils such as rose, jasmine, saffran, oud and sandalwood etc. but the regulations there are different which can make it hard. I visited some very authentic distillators who had been producing this type of oil for generations – though understandably they don’t always want to share their secrets, which can also be tricky, but I like to work with them.
How do you take care of yourself?
This is a very good question, as I said earlier, I take less energy from the people who come to the salon now, though I’m also like everybody and forget to take care of myself when things get busy or like this winter for example, when it was cold and dark. I’m more like a tourist – I love nice smells, nice tea and as everything is changing all of the time, I’m also changing with what I need and what I respond to. Buddha knew and understood already 2500 years ago that everything was changing and somehow I feel if you have attachment things become more painful and can feel almost impossible.
…I feel if you have attachment things become more painful and can feel almost impossible.
Is there a specific oil or smell that you can’t live without?
It really changes because my mood is also changing. I made the Moon Balancing oil with geranium, and clary sage as the full moon is disturbing and this oil balances things out. Sometimes though, I need uplifting which is a very different combination – for example rose and jasmine. And, when I feel I want to go back to my roots with oils that are more Japanese, I use oils such as sandalwood and oud which remind me of temples, or hinoki and yuzu from the Japanese environment.
Do you learn from the workshops that you host in the Salon and integrate them into your life?
Yes, both Daniel and I started meditation when we discovered Vipassana, a form of meditation. We later expanded into Zazen (Zen meditation) thanks to the monk Seigaku, who is trying to bring meditation into the city of Berlin. We now work in intensive Zazen workshops called Sesshin with Seigaku and Zen-Dōjō Jūjisan now hosts Zazen meditation twice a week at the Salon.
If you understand that everything is changing, things become more simple.