Shinrin Yoku: The Japanese Art of Forest Bathing
by Yoshifumi Miyazaki
First, I’d like to say that I absolutely loved this book! It is one of my top three books so far this year. I have been telling everyone who will listen about the things I learned in this book. (I’ve probably annoyed a few people doing it too, but it’s so worth the read!)
What is Shinrin Yoku? It is the art of forest bathing. By bathing, it does not mean getting into water. It means immersing oneself in the experience of being in a forest. It can be for 20 minutes or two hours, but the idea is to get out there in nature. The author is a researcher who has studied the effects of this practice on many people, from stressed-out office workers, to city dwellers, etc. His results are astonishing, but probably not too surprising to those who spend a lot of time in nature.
The benefits are enormous. Lowered stress hormones, improvement in mood, enhanced creativity, lower blood pressure, more energy, improvement of the immune system, better sleep, and more.
The photos throughout the book are fantastic. So beautiful and relaxing! You will want to visit those places. Very appealing artwork!
Studies are shown in the book, along with details of the results. The researchers have published many scientific papers on this subject. Research is supported by the government in Japan too. It is important research and one can hope that the American government would follow this example and fund more research into the benefits of forest and nature therapy.
For those who have no access to a forest, other options are given. Such as growing bonsai or using essential oils. Essential oils mimic the effects of the natural terpenes you would find in a forest. In Japan, many of the trees give off these terpenes and these have been shown by research to help people relax and experience these benefits. But, you don’t need to travel to Japan to experience these benefits. There are many amazing forests in Japan, but there are natural areas all over the world too. Some of the forest therapy places in Japan are documented in the book, should you desire to go visit them. They look beautiful and the photos help the reader see these places.
Other books have written about the effects of nature therapy (Louv’s Last Child in the Woods, and F. Williams’ The Nature Fix come to mind), but this is the first book I’ve read that was written by one of the actual researchers who has studied this firsthand. I enjoyed seeing the actual studies and the results that they documented. They studied a variety of citizens to see if the effects are the same across the board and they seemed to be. Having spent a lot of time in nature myself, I can attest that these techniques really work.
If you want to learn more about how to get these benefits, read this book! I can’t recommend it enough. If more of us would go out in nature and use the methods described here, our overall health would improve, our stress levels would drop and we’d be better off as a whole. I encourage you to try it. You won’t regret it.