If we've learned anything from watching Studio Ghibli films, it's that forests are enchanting, peaceful places full of magic and natural wonder... But did you know that spending time in forests can have an immensely positive effect on both your psychological and physical health?
Shinrin-yoku (森林浴)—which literally translates to “forest bath”—is the Japanese practice of “bathing” oneself in nature with the intention of receiving therapeutic benefits. Beginning in Japan in the 1980s (the word itself was coined by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in 1982), the practice of shinrin-yoku has since spread widely across the planet—there is now a wide range of guided tours operating within Japan and all over the world that teach the benefits of forest therapy.
The actual practice of shinrin-yoku is very simple: take a few hours out of your busy life, head to a densely forested area, and let the trees do the rest:
Research conducted across 24 different forests in Japan shows that spending time in forest environments can reduce concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, increase parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve energy.
Simply put: spending time in nature can be good for your physiological and psychological well being compared to spending time in city environments. While the outcomes of shinrin-yoku studies have been, at times, a little inconsistent, there’s nothing wrong with taking a few hours out to get back to nature.
5 places to try Shinrin-Yoku near Tokyo
Tokyo, the world’s most populous metropolitan area, is not necessarily known for its abundance of pristine, untouched forestry. While you won’t find a Ghibli–style natural wonderland nestled discretely between Shinjuku and Shibuya, there are at least a few places in and around the city that can help you get back to nature. Here are a few of the smaller havens within the city limits, plus a few lovely locations further out, that can help you escape the hustle and bustle and find a moment of peace to practice shinrin-yoku.
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