Forest Bathing in Japan in a national pastime that promotes health and longevity. Here is where to go Forest bathing in Japan.
Hayama no Mori campground or はやまの森野営場 is a real escape from the busy city life. With less than 2-hour drive from Kyoto city and less than 50-minute drive from Nara Park, this campground is easily accessible and is a perfect Forest Bathing getaway. If you are visiting Japan’s Kansai area, a few nights at this campground amidst forest will reset and recharge your mind and body.
In Japan, the term “Shinrin Yoku (森林浴)” is a household phrase. It literally translates as “Forest Bathing”, immersing oneself in nature for increased well-being, and it has become a national pastime. The idea is that you switch off your mind, bask in nature, and let the forest’s healing hands do the rest.
Our stay at this campground was in September 2019 as part of Shinrin Yoku Forest Bathing Training Certification Program. We took our guides-in-training to camp in this forest to disconnect from the world, reconnect with themselves and to learn the art of deep relaxation and how to guide their future clients to do the same.
Our five senses play a crucial role in forest-bathing’s healing effects – the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feel of the forest all have a powerful impact on our well-being.
Of all our senses, sense of smell is the most primal. None of our other senses has such a profound effect at a physical and mental level. Smells affect our moods and behaviors and, in turn, are connected to our emotions. Breathing in the forest’s natural aromatherapy, the plant chemicals known as phytoncides, provides a huge boost to the immune system. At this campground, the air is full of the refreshing and lemony aroma of Hinoki or the Japanese cypress.
It is difficult to experience silence, peacefulness and stillness in today’s modern world. Noise isn’t only disturbing and annoying, but it also increases blood pressure, interferes with concentration, sleep and leads to mental fragmentation. Exposure to chronic noise is stressful and stress can cause a whole lot of health issues. Time spent in the forest allows our guides and participants to experience natural silence. Of course, silence in nature does not always mean absolute quietness. When you are free from human and artificial noises, you have an opportunity to listen to the sounds that only nature provides. The sounds of the forest soothe our mind and alleviate mental fatigue. In the forest, our senses are refreshed and rejuvenated. Play the YouTube video below to listen to the sounds of the forest waking up in the morning. There are birds chirping, wild animals whistling and the sound of running water from the creek in the background. Quite relaxing.
Our sense of sight has been called the most important of all our senses. We are visual creatures and perceive most of our impressions By what we see through our eyes. It is with our sense of sight that we experience the magnificence and beauty of the natural world. Being at the camp allowed us to wake up with the sun and follow the nature’s rhythm. Being outdoors and exposed to bright natural light that can improve vision.
The natural patterns found in nature deeply affect and nurture us. They are imprinted in our physiological-cognitive system. These patterns in nature are not only aesthetically pleasing, but are scientifically proven to relax us, no matter how complicated the patterns are. Below are pictures of beautiful patterns we saw at the forest and the YouTube video shows a wild deer jumping away!
It is with our sense of touch that we can begin to physically and literally connect with nature. Many of our illnesses, stresses and anxieties are due to lack of connection with nature. Taking a hands-on approach to the natural world will help to restore that connection. Feel the breeze in your face, let the water stream ripple through your hands, lie on the ground and take off your shoes and go barefoot.
Another way to connect with nature is to eat or drink it. While we do not recommend foraging for wild food, for there are many poisonous plants, the water at the campground is filtered from a natural source. We cooked our meal and brew our tea with this water.
Official website (Japanese only): https://hayama.8m10.com
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/hB73mZHk8kmE3Gww5
Facilities: Drinking water fountains, shower with hot water, 100v Japanese electrical outlets at the Visitor House (main building), western and squat toilets, fridge, fire pits, logs for campfire, cabins and various tent sites, free parking lot, wooden dining tables scattered around camp sites.
Remark: The shower facilities are not so well maintained, but the hot water works very well. The staff speaks Japanese only. There can be buyout when the camp receives bookings from boy scout groups. The information will be shown on its official website. The campground covers a large area and the nature is beautiful. There are snakes, but most of them are not poisonous. There is no deadly wild animal to our knowledge.
Here are some pictures on the campground.
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