Shinrin-Yoku (森林浴) is a Japanese term that translates to “Forest Bathing” in English and involves spending free time wandering in nature. This therapeutic method was developed in the 1980s in Japan, and it was designed to enhance wellbeing, health, and joy. It’s used widely in the country for purposes of preventative healthcare in Japanese medicine.
Recently a friend of mine created a post about Forest Bathing and this is where I first discovered the term “Shinrin Yoku“. The amazing thing is that she has invented a technology that she calls the Harmonic Egg and it’s literally a giant egg you sit inside of. While inside you’re bathed with light and sound, it’s very similar to Forest Bathing. I suggest you look into her work as well after reading through this article.
Different researchers, mainly from South Korea and Japan, have carried out various studies to prove the health benefits of forest bathing. They found out that Shinrin-Yoku helps create a relaxing neuro-psychological effect resulting from the changes in the body’s nervous system. In turn, the body’s stress hormones such as Cortisol and Norepinephrine are minimized, and the immune system boosted.
Every research conducted so far has proved that the human body’s anxiety, anger, depression, stress, and lack of sleep levels were reduced considerably for all participants. A simple 15-minute practice of Shinrin-Yoku reduces pressure and stress levels as well as boosts mental acuity. Today, Japan has 44 accredited forest bathing sites with efforts underway to establish Shinrin-Yoku worldwide.
Additionally, nature has proven time and again to be a powerful catalyst in a patient’s recovery journey. In a study published by Dr. Roger Ulrich, a simple view of nature from your window can aid in minimizing convalescence by 24 hours in contrast to the perspective from an urban setup.
Another study by a psychology professor, David Strayer, from the University of Utah proved that Shinrin-Yoku boosts creativity. The study showed that there was a 50% boost in creative problem-solving skills from all participants after a 3-day forest bathing trial in absence of modern technology.
I have an interesting story that relates to Shinrin Yoku and another Japanese word I learned from our good friend Megumi-san while we were in Japan (my wife and I). We were on our way out to Saga prefecture from Fukuoka and we were going through the mountains, and if you’ve ever been in Japan and through the mountains and valleys you’ll know how absolutely GREEN it can be. I could immediately feel this presence of color therapy at work while we drove through the mountains, and so we were trying to figure out what the word would be that we were feeling in japanese.
Our friend Megumi-san eventually figured out what we were trying to say and she said this word we were looking for is “Chiryoukoka” (治療固化) which means “Cure” or “Therapy”. This very much rings true, what is interesting is that I’m not alone in this feeling (obviously) you can read here about how “Green is Good for You“, which is another Forest Bathing type website.
Another helpful word in Japanese that goes hand in hand with Shinrin Yoku is Komorebi. Komorebi (木漏れ日) is a word that describes when there are rays or light coming through a tree’s leaves creating a dazzling effect and for many creating a positive feeling of wonderment and awe. There is another word that can also sort of describe this and it’s mabushii (まぶしい), which means dazzled or bright although the difference I would say is that one is spiritual 3D description and another is a flat 2D description.
While using the help of a guide can be the best way to start forest bathing, not everyone has access to a professional guide. However, you can still enjoy the benefits of Shinrin-Yoku on your own. To begin your forest bathing therapy, try these simple steps:
As you can see, practicing Shinrin Yoku is simple, and you don’t even need a guide.
Remember to turn off your phone to avoid any interruptions as well as EMFs.
Hiking: Every nature walk has its characteristics, and some may involve a challenging trek for longer distances. However, Shinrin-Yoku is all about plunging yourself in nature in a healing manner.
Naturalist Outing: While forest bathing, we may come across nature’s wonders such as animals, trees, and flowers. However, we do not aim at knowing their characters, names, or medicinal importance.
Medical treatment: Shinrin-Yoku is not meant to replace any physical or mental healthcare diagnosed by professionals. It’s all about spending your time in natural environments regularly to enhance your well-being.
According to a Sacramento Forest Therapy Guide, Rose Lawrence, Shinrin Yoku’s central concept revolves around enhancing a positive connection with nature that helps feel your natural surroundings better, which is one reason perhaps the Shintoism religion has such a heavy influence in Japan, one does not have to have extrasensory skills to notice an affect of nature on the body, mind and spirit. You can also enjoy the overall benefits of forest bathing by following the five simple steps discussed above or you can try out the Harmonic Egg by Gail Lynn.
The anime series xxxHolic and its sequels are based on Clamp’s manga series with the same name and were developed by Production I.G. It revolves around Kimihiro Watanuki, a high-school student disturbed by his ability to see the supernatural. He meets Yūko Ichihara, a powerful witch, who owns a wish-granting shop. Watanuki requests to have his ability to see spirits removed and as payment, Yūko hires him to work in the shop, resulting in his encounter with various supernatural adventures.
When I first stumbled upon this Anime I was pulled in by so many different qualities of the story. Between the real life examples of mystical rules of life to the humor, I quickly burned through a couple episodes everyday until sadly there was no more. BUT, there is another xxxholic I just couldn’t get into it. This version is my favorite and I’m sticking with it.
You can see more Anime here.
Today my wife and I went to Nanzoin temple here in Fukuoka, we rode the train to Yoshizuka and then took a train that went past Yusa to a train stop that I couldn’t properly pronounce very well, all I knew was that it had the kanji for previous at the end of it (Mae), but the area is called Sasaguri. I found out that this large span of small shrines all intertwined each other to make a very large temple compound. The pictures we took were of a lot of tiny very detailed statues, some REALLY big statues and of course the grand prize of them all, the reclining Buddha statue. (update) A few people debate on if it really is the biggest bronze statue in the world, but it comes down to no one else being able to find a bigger one to trump the current master piece (If anyone has any proof otherwise please share it). This statue was built back in 1995 and supposedly the temple has a good connect with Myanmar and some kind of organization there help fund this statue. There are 3 different states of a Buddha statue, standing, sitting and reclining. The sitting is the most popular to show the Buddha meditating, but the reclining is the state of “death” in a way, it’s preparation for entering nirvana or nehan in Japanese.
While we were at the compound we entered into a cave that had a really low ceiling walking into it, no one would come in because there was chanting coming from inside, but we braved it any how and found an older lady chanting and going about her ritual/meditation, she waved us in and attempted to tell us what to do to properly pray/meditate to the shrine inside. So we did, and it was interesting to see her continue on, then get up and leave. We saw here a couple other places around the shrine doing the same thing to practically ever shrine that the temple had (which was a lot). We then also did some hiking up into the mountain which passed the temple grounds and came to a road, there were loan shrines littered throughout the area and on the side of the road, we also stumbled across a well hidden Shinto shrine which was an interesting find. Through these walk we ran into (saw) two different tanuki, which was rather fun to see being I’ve heard they’re very skittish creatures and it’s a sign of good fortune to see them.