Forest Bathing — The Japanese Practice of Shinrin-Yoku
Enabling you to reconnect with the natural world — and boost your body’s killer cell activity at the same time.
Greater Tokyo is the most densely populated land mass in the world. In 2019, its population peaked at 37.468 million. This was more than the entire population of Canada.
Life in Tokyo can be stressful, with famously long working hours and a frenetic pace of life. Japanese words have been coined to describe some of the unfortunate results of this stress-filled lifestyle — karōshi, death from overwork, and hikikomori, people who shut themselves into their rooms for years on end.
Yet stepping outside of the bustling big cities reveals a world of natural wonder. More than 70% of Japan is blanketed by mountains and forests in which can be found magnificent cedar trees, diverse moss-covered rocks, and thundering majestic waterfalls.
It is no wonder that the practice of forest bathing developed in Japan to provide an antidote for the stresses of big-city life.
The Uniquely Japanese Origin of Forest Bathing
People in Japan started to practice forest bathing in the early 1980s out of the intuitive notion that spending time surrounded by greenery was good for them. The practice was christened shinrin-yoku in 1982 by the Director General of the Agency of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, in a dual campaign to encourage people to visit forests for their health, and also as a means of protecting the forests. If people spent time in forests, so the thinking went, they would be more likely to want to protect them.
Shinrin-yoku is a combination of Japanese words — 森林 shinrin, forest and 浴 yoku, bath. Simply put, forest bathing is opening up our senses to drink in the natural world. It conveys the delight of walking in a forest and taking time to observe nature in all its detailed wonder.
Japan’s indigenous religion, Shinto, holds that millions of deities called kami inhabit nature. Stones, waterfalls, and trees can all be homes to kami. Some of the most beautiful places in the country are sacred spots that are marked…