Have you heard of the Japanese practice called “shinrin-yoku”? In English, it is translated to “forest bathing,” which is also known as forest therapy, a form of health care and healing in Japanese medicine. There are many places in Japan where you can forest bathe; even in the bustling area of Tokyo!
The concept of shinrin-yoku or forest bathing was introduced to Japan in the early 1980s. It became popular across different prefectures which resulted in the establishment of several forest therapy camps.
Forest therapy or nature therapy claims to have health effects such as boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, reduce stress, improve sleep, increase energy level, improve mood, enhance the ability to focus, and many more. Based on several studies, the atmosphere of forests (the sound of the birds, cool air, wild plants, trees, and green leaves) make people calm as well.
So where can you forest bathe in Japan?
Tokyo is probably the last place you will think of visiting when it comes to green forests. However, there are actually a few spots in and around the city where you can find small forest havens. Here are three of them!
A part of Sayama Hills, Totoro’s Forest is a blend of lush hills and natural farmlands. The forest looks similar to the one in the Ghibli movie My Neighbor Totoro. It is one of the best places to do forest bathing near the Tokyo Metropolitan area, as it gives you a beautiful view of houses, vegetable gardens, and tea gardens.
Totoro’s Forest is around a 45- to 60-minute train ride from Tokyo. You can use the Seibu Ikebukuro Line from Ikebukuro Station to Nishi-Tokorozawa, then transfer to the Seibu Sayama line and get off at Shimo-Yamaguchi Station.
Mt. Takao is a popular destination for mountain climbers, as it provides unimaginably beautiful nature. It especially looks enchanting during the spring season when cherry blossoms are in full bloom. Forest bathing is definitely a must here if you would like to enjoy a stroll or hike and have some peace and quiet.
Mt. Takao can be reached via Takaosanguchi Station, which is around a 50-minute express train ride from Shinjuku Station on the Keio Line.
If you don’t want to go far for forest bathing, you can head to the Institute for Nature Study right in the middle of Tokyo. It is a sanctuary of natural beauty that will remind you of a verdant oasis amid the urban desert.
The Institute for Nature Study is a 9-minute walk along Meguro Street from the East Exit of JR Yamanote Line’s Meguro Station or from the Central Exit of Tokyu Meguro Line’s Meguro Station.
These three places are not too far from Tokyo and are easily accessible if you would like to relax and forest bathe. The Japanese practice of forest bathing will definitely help you de-stress and detach yourself from the world.