I had about six seconds to reconsider dunking my feet into a questionable hot tub filled with fish while a few of my closest friends documented my experience.

“So, we’re going through with this, right?” Program Assistant Jon Zmikly asked.

“Of course,” I said.

“We’re toe-bros now, Jakob,” Zmikly said touching his knuckles to mine in a fist bump as he said it.

Backing up, we were desperate for relief.

All told, at the end of this Faculty-led Study Abroad trip to Japan, I logged 71.3 miles over the course of 12 days of travel and adventure.

To put it short, our dogs were barking, and we needed some sort of relief.

After a day in the ancient city of Kamakura, we capped off our sightseeing at Enoshima, with even more walking.

Rounding a corner of the island’s various shops, I saw an advertisement for what appeared to be the viral spa treatment where Garra rufa, a type of catfish, nibble dead skin cells off your feet, making them silky smooth.

Jon and I walked into the small shop where the owner pointed us to a list of rules on the wall.

The original advertisement that had piqued our interest was that this entire experience was only about 500 Yen (about $5 USD).
Plus, we received a special towel for our feet for before and after the spa treatment. Jon and I were looking at spending $7 for some immediate and much-needed relief.
After we paid, the shop owner ushered Jon and me to a sink where we washed our feet and interrogated us over the condition they were in so he could make sure his fish population was still going to be around after they munched on our feet.
We assured him that we hadn’t been in any chlorine or sand. We washed our feet and picked a spot along what can best be described as a hot tub full of tiny fish.
The shop owner told us to get in very slowly and to lower our feet in carefully so as not to squish any of the fish in the process.
As soon as our toes hit the water, the fish swarmed around our feet.
The group around us shrieked.
“What does it feel like?” they wanted to know.
Crippled with both pleasure and slight discomfort at the constant pecking sensation, I struggled to even say “good.”
For five minutes the fish went to work on our worn feet.
Soon, a timer went off and the owner motioned for us to get out. We dried off with our souvenir towels and slid our shoes back on.

We finished off the day with about 6.6 additional miles on our feet and the adventure continued.

I really didn’t think about my feet again until we got back to our hotel, and I got a text from Zmikly.

“My feet are silky smooth,” the text read.

I threw off my socks and touched my own.

“Mine too, toe-bro,” I replied.

The Toe-bros

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