Moss Girls: The Japanese Phenomenon of Moss Viewing
Moss Girls of Japan: A cloudy sky hovers above, while the light patter of rain descends upon the rain coat of a young woman. She holds a book between one of her arms as she’s crouched, with a camera closely focused in front of her. She hesitates for only a moment, then clicks and the picture has been taken. She wipes the moisture off of the lens, then withdraws a magnifying glass. She inspects fervently, devouring every small detail. After some time, she stands up and maintains her focus in front of her. She takes another look at the wet, dewy carpet of moss glistening back at her, excited to print the fresh picture and add it to her moss book. She inhales deeply, then continues walking in search of her next discovery.
She is one of many Japanese moss girls. Moss girls are part of a growing trend in Japan of moss viewing, where moss viewers inspect the art of nature in the form of moss. These viewers bring magnifying glasses to get an up-close look at the small plants and to see the very core of its presence. They snap pictures to put into their moss photo books, in which photos recount the treasures of previous exploits. While many people, of different ages and genders, participate in moss viewing, a surge of young women enjoying this hobby has become a trend. These women have varying reasons for their enjoyment of moss viewing, but many agree that studying moss is relaxing, beautiful, and a reminder of endurance.
In Japan, finding moss is quite simple. It may be carpeting the forest floor, or slowly climbing the trunk of a tree in front yards. In fact, Japan is home to over 2,000 species of moss. Japan’s varying geographies invite a multitude of species to grow, creating a diverse landscape for the moss viewers.
The Japanese maintain the value of coexisting with nature, and moss viewing allows its participants to step foot into the natural world and gaze upon its presence. Even if not physically able to go outdoors, Japanese art forms such as the bonsai tree, moss gardens, or flower arrangements bring the art form of nature indoors. While many parts of Japan have become sleek and urbanized, the Japanese still recognize the power and beauty of nature and some allow this curiosity to flourish while chasing the next thicket of moss.
To read more about moss girls in Japan, or how to do a moss viewing yourself, read Hisako Fujii’s article here!