A hot spring is defined as a place where hot water comes out of the ground, or the hot water itself. It is said that monks began their hot spring bathing habits after the Kamakura period about 1000 years ago. There are more than 3,000 hot spring resorts throughout Japan. Hot springs vary in water quality, but have been used since ancient times to treat injuries and illness, including both mental and physical problems.
The Japanese Society of Balneology, Climatology and Physical Medicine (BCPM) was founded in 1934, was jointed in the fifteenth of academic societies of Japan. The BCPM is also the only scientific society focusing on hot spring therapy and its clinical research. The BCPM collaborates with the Ministry of the Environment, which has jurisdiction over hot springs. The membership of the BCPM currently numbers approximately 2000 doctors. The BCPM offers two levels of credentials for doctors, based on their studies and clinical experience: authorized balneotherapeutic doctor and board-certified balneologist.
The BCPM holds its annual meeting at a famous Japanese hot spring, and publishes the Journal of Balneology, Climatology and Physical Medicine four times per year. It belongs to the International Society of Medical Hydrology and Climatology (ISMH), and hosted the 38th ISMH World Congress in Kyoto in 2014. The BCPM’s social contributions include several public lectures every year about balneology, climatology and physical medicine.
1976 Certification system for doctors in balneotherapy established in the BCPM
1980 Educational workshop initiated for doctors who wish to be certified in balneotherapeutics
1982 “Authorized balneotherapeutic doctor” designation established by the BCPM. District workshops initiated.
1989 Launch of the “board-certified balneologist” designation Authorized balneotherapeutic doctor (n=1006 as of September, 2021) The BCPM offers the
“authorized balneotherapeutic doctor” designation for doctors who have completed the full education workshop, and will be able to teach balneology, climatology and physical medicine. Furthermore, the doctor must have belonged to the BCPM for at least 3 years and must hold a Japanese medical license. When a doctor is authorized, he or she is automatically granted membership in the BCPM, and the authorization must be renewed every 5 years.
Board-certified balneologist (n=193 as of September, 2021) The BCPM offers the “board-certified balneologist” designation for doctors who have passed the specialist examination after at least two years of experience as a balneotherapeutic doctor and have been certified as a specialist. The certification must be renewed every 5 years and requires 20 training credits to renew.