It might seem strange that a proposition as straightforward as "walking in the woods is good for you" should be promoted as a scientific breakthrough. Common sense, isn’t it? But apparently not. The benefits of "forest therapy," in terms of physical and mental health, have become the subject of academic research in recent years, with the authors’ findings leading to certain walks being officially certified as "Forest Therapy Roads."
Needless to say, a walk in the woods is always a good idea. Indeed, walking anywhere is a good idea, and so is fresh air, especially after a week spent being shunted between the ‘conditioned’ air of your undersized apartment and the chemical-soaked sterility of your "infection-free" office.
If you’re wondering where you can have a walk in some nice woods, you might like to consider spending a day or two at Lime Resort Myoko, a small hotel in beautiful woodland in the mountains of Niigata Prefecture.
Until November 7, the hotel is offering a deal whereby you spend a morning trekking along the Oshikaike course in Kurohime Kogen, which has been certified as a "healing forest course," in the company of a ‘forest medical trainer.’
The forests around the town of Shinanomachi, not far from Myoko, are where the first medical research into the health benefits of going for a walk in the woods was conducted. The hotel suggests you "take a walk through the magnificent forest with a forest medical trainer and heal your mind and body in nature."
Lime Resort Myoko is located in the Myoko Togakushi Mountains National Park and boasts wonderful views of Mt Myoko, one of Japan's 100 Famous Mountains. During the winter months, the hotel functions as a ski resort, but for the rest of the year it serves as a base for visitors looking to go trekking or mountain biking.
Go now and you’ll get to enjoy the delights of the coming of autumn, as the foliage turns from green to multiple shades of yellow, red and brown.
From the hotel to the start of the Oshikaike course is 8.3 km. You can walk it or borrow one of the hotel’s four mountain bikes, which it rents for 4000 yen per half day. Just be sure to make a reservation in advance of your arrival. Alternatively, the hotel can take you to the start of the course in one of its vehicles.
The hotel’s current deal includes free use of the onsite onsen (hot spring bath) when you get back from your walk. There are three baths. One is of black mud, which comes bubbling up from sourced from nearby Minami Jigokudani (Hell Valley). Another is of sulphur, which is recommended for the treatment of insomnia, dermatitis, eczema, lower back pain and diabetes. In addition to the large communal bath, there is a ceramic bath, where you can relax alone. What could be better than spending the afternoon soaking in the baths?
The hotel recommends that visitors bring appropriate clothing for walking:
Hiking boots or stout walking shoes, thick socks, a long-sleeved shirt and loose long pants. Come October, the temperature often drops below 18 degrees during the daytime, so you should knitwear and/or a fleece. If you find yourself in need of any of the above, there is a shop in the hotel that sells a variety of North Face products, but numbers and sizes are limited.
A room sleeping two people, including dinner and breakfast, costs 21,000 yen per person. Be advised that a 10% service charge and 10% consumption tax will be charged separately. This offer is valid until Nov 7.
Lime Resort Myoko is at 2251-2 Sekigawa, Myoko City, Niigata Prefecture, 949-2112. For more information, take a look at the hotel’s website or call the hotel on 0255-75-5115.
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