Forest Healing, the Japanese Art of Shinrin Yoku

Forest Healing: When times become stressful or exhausting, perhaps a walk through the forest is the solution. This is the idea behind Shinrin Yoku (森林浴), a Japanese term which loosely translates to forest healing. This forest healing is used to achieve relaxation and boost healthiness. Many of those who practice forest therapy do so to relieve themselves of the stress, both physical and emotional, of our modern world.

     It does not imply a quick stroll through a forest, but rather a slow and purposeful walk. To achieve the desired results, one must take time in each step, absorbing the details in the surrounding nature. Listen to the sounds, the rustling of leaves as a gentle wind passes through. Feel the earth, whether it be the firmness of the dirt beneath you or the light tickle of the grass on your ankle. Smell the forest, and let the scent of the terrain envelop you.

Forest Healing

     It is argued that the air within the forest is pure as the trees create clean air within the space, and the green and orange colors of the environment have a positive effect on the human body. The smells of the forest are said to be healing to our bodies. Studies have been done to test the results of purposeful forest bathing, and this research seems to support the claims of forest healing. One study found that forest bathing, in comparison with walking through a city setting, lowered cortisol levels, blood pressure and pulse rate. Another study found that after three days of forest healing, participants had a significant increase in white blood cells, or natural killer cells.

     The art of forest healing is well known and respected in Japan, but it has now reached the states too. In Los Angeles, the Shinrin Yoku company has opened, who will take you on guided tours through forests to achieve results. Based in San Francisco is The Association of Nature and Forest Therapy, which certifies individuals who are looking to become one of these forest healing guides. Their website also provides a starter kit for anyone looking into trying forest healing.

     So give it a try and talk a slow stroll through the forest and see how you feel!

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!


Moss Girls Japan

Photo by Kyodo News