Forest Bathing: The Japanese Stress Combatant

10 October 2019

By Lauren E. White

Imagine this: you go to the doctor suffering from stress and anxiety. You work long hours most days of the week, and you work hard for your company. When you go to the doctor, they prescribe you some ‘forest therapy’, or ‘forest bathing’. Yes, you read that right: bathing.

The Japanese culture is renowned for its diversity – and forest bathing is no different. It’s a reflection of just how interesting their culture is and how it takes into account the necessities of working in their concrete jungle of Tokyo, but also the importance of their huge forests. Forest bathing was coined by former forestry minister Tomohide Akiyama in 1982 and it prompted a government campaign to promote the amazing nature of Japan.

Nowadays, forest bathing in Japan can be prescribed by doctors for patients dealing with stress and anxiety as a form of mindfulness. The process itself – known in Japanese as shinrin-yoku – involves walking through one of the 25 hectares of forest in Japan. You are guided through by a tree therapist, and once you reach a certain point, you will be asked to stop.


Before you will be logs with the top half of them cut and shaved to allow a human body to lie there comfortably. You lay down on your back facing the canopy of trees above you and listen to nature’s sounds and take in nature’s smells.

The benefits of forest bathing aren’t just psychological either. Yoshifumi Miyazaki, a professor at Chiba University, says forest bathing also has a physiological effect: “Your cortisol levels rise when you are feeling stressed, and fall when you are relaxed…we discovered that when you go for a walk in the forest, cortisol levels are reduced, which means you are less stressed.”

Forest bathing benefits can last for up to several days, so a weekly ‘forest detox’ could actually help sustain better mental wellbeing. Fancy a go?

Like this article? Please share!