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The Amazing Places for Forest Bathing in Japan – Kumano Kodo, Wakayama

Forest bathing Japan with The Mindful Tourist
The Mindful Tourist taking the group out for Forest Bathing

Forest Bathing in Japan in a national pastime that promotes health and longevity. Here is where to go Forest bathing in Japan.

Many travelers visit Japan and limit their sightseeing activities to the country’s heavily urbanized areas such as Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, but ones of the defining features of Japan are small untouched villages and beautiful preserved nature that make you feel like you travel back in time.

Having lived in Japan for a few years and traveled to several remote villages, I am still deeply mesmerized by how well the Japanese preserve their forest, nature trails and spiritual sites. Maybe it is Shintoism, the indigenous religion of Japan and throughout history, it has provided the backbone of Japanese culture.

This YouTube video captures the beauty of Kumano Kodo in motion which may inspire you to put this place on your bucket list.

Shinto faith shows deep respect for nature. At the core of the belief is the Kami, the spirits or phenomena that are worshiped. However the Shinto faith greatly differs from other religions in that there are no sacred figures or doctrines. Instead followers draw their deities from nature – worshiping the rocks, trees, wind and sun.

Approximately 70% of Japan are covered by forested mountains and hills, and today’s the “Amazing Places in Japan for Forest Bathing” series will take you to the ancient pilgrimage trails called Kumano Kodo in Wakayama, one of the most amazing prefectures for natural beauty in Japan where one could get deeply connected to nature, practice Shinrin Yoku or Forest Bathing and discover your inner peace.

With more than 1,000 years of history, the Kumano Kodo is one of the only two pilgrimage routes in the world that have been designated UNESCO World Heritage site, with the other being the Way of St. James, located in the Province of Galicia in Spain.

For over a thousand years people from all levels of society, including emperors, warriors and aristocrats, have made the arduous pilgrimage to the sacred sites in Kumano. These pilgrims used a network of routes, now called the Kumano Kodo, which stretched across the mountainous Kii Peninsula.

The walk itself was an integral part of the pilgrimage process as they undertook rigorous religious rites of worship and purification. Nowadays, for visitors, walking the ancient Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route is a great way to experience the unique way of life, pristine nature and cultural landscape of Japan’s spiritual countryside.

Planning your Kumano Kodo hike is made easy with information provided by KUMANO TRAVEL, a local, community-based initiative, created to provide quality information, services, and products so visitors can fully experience all this area has to offer.

It highly recommended to book accommodation for each night of your trip in one of the minshukus or family-operated, Japanese-style bed and breakfasts that are dispersed along the route in advance. They offer visitors a good opportunity to meet local families and experience the traditional Japanese lifestyle. Since there is no presence of hotels, accommodation at Kumano Kodo is limited. This is probably one of the main reasons the route is never oversubscribed. Camping along the hike is also possible, but is not recommended.

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Here is all you need to know about Shinrin Yoku training.

On this page you will find comprehensive information on how to become a certified guide and instructor, how to choose the right institution, the career path of certified Shinrin Yoku guide ad instructor, the health benefits of Shinrin Yoku, how to practice Shinrin Yoku by yourself, how to design a Shinrin Yoku trips or retreats, how to create a business around the idea of Shinrin Yoku and more.

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