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Journey Through Life With the Wisdom of the Forest

Physical Risk Associated with a Shinrin Yoku Session

Many Shinrin Yoku guides in-training ask often the following question: “Should I be communicating the risks associated when in the forest to participants of a Shinrin Yoku session?” The dilemma, they seem to have, revolves around their fear of creating fear in participants while understanding that Shinrin Yoku is a relaxing experience. It is a good dilemma to have, as it allows for an after-thought. 

Imagine what will happen if you do not inform a Shinrin Yoku session’s participant about the risks? It should not be about hiding the reality of the forest environment  but rather to be transparent about it.

I have conducted hundreds of Shinrin Yoku sessions, and here after I wish to stress an importance of sharing with participants risk associated whit the forest.

  1. Awareness and preparedness: Discussing potential hazards helps individuals become aware of the risks involved and prepare accordingly. This may include packing appropriate clothing, gear, or first aid supplies.
  2. Safety precautions: Understanding the risks enables people to take necessary safety precautions to minimize accidents and injuries. For example, knowing that certain trails are steep and slippery, individuals can wear shoes with good traction and use trekking poles for support.
  3. Navigation and planning: Awareness of risks helps in planning the route and duration of the trip. If certain areas of the forest are known to be dangerous, it’s better to avoid them or ensure experienced guides are present.
  4. Wildlife encounters: Forests are home to various wildlife species, some of which may be dangerous. Discussing risks helps individuals understand how to react during encounters and maintain a safe distance from potentially dangerous animals.
  5. Environmental conditions: Weather and environmental conditions can change rapidly in forested areas. Discussing potential risks prepares visitors for sudden weather changes, such as storms or flash floods, and helps them understand how to respond.
  6. Health risks: Some individuals may have health conditions that could be exacerbated by physical exertion or exposure to allergens in the forest. Discussing risks allows them to make informed decisions about their participation and prepare any necessary medications or equipment.
  7. Emergency situations: Talking about risks helps people understand the importance of having a communication plan and emergency contact information in case they get lost, injured, or encounter any other issues.
  8. Group cohesion and support: When everyone is aware of the risks involved, the group can work together to ensure everyone’s safety and support each other during challenging situations.

In summary, discussing physical risks before going to a forest is essential to promote safety, preparedness, and responsible behavior during a Shinrin Yoku session . It enables individuals and groups to make informed decisions, take necessary precautions, and respond effectively to potential hazards.

As Shinrin Yoku guides I have trained over the past 2 years comes from different parts of the world, it important to adapt to risk considerations  to the local climate and type of forest. 

The risks associated with visiting a forest can vary depending on the type of forest, as different forest ecosystems present unique challenges and hazards. Some factors that can influence the risks are climate, geography, flora, fauna, and human activities. Here are some examples of how risks may change with different types of forests:

Tropical rainforests:

  • High humidity and heat can pose risks for dehydration, heat exhaustion, or heatstroke.
  • Dense vegetation may make navigation challenging and increase the likelihood of getting lost.
  • A greater variety of venomous insects, reptiles, and other dangerous wildlife species.
  • Risk of tropical diseases like malaria, dengue, or yellow fever.

Temperate forests:

  • Variable weather conditions, with temperature swings that may lead to hypothermia or heat-related illnesses.
  • Seasonal risks, such as ticks and Lyme disease in warmer months or slippery trails during the wet season.
  • Encounters with large mammals like bears or mountain lions, which may pose a threat if not handled appropriately.

Boreal forests (taiga):

  • Extreme cold temperatures can result in frostbite, hypothermia, or other cold-related illnesses.
  • Snow and ice can make navigation and movement difficult, increasing the risk of falls or injuries.
  • Limited daylight hours in winter months may affect visibility and increase the likelihood of getting lost.

Mangrove forests:

  • Wet, muddy, and slippery conditions can make movement challenging and increase the risk of injuries.
  • Saltwater and brackish water may pose risks for dehydration or skin irritation.
  • Encounters with potentially dangerous marine species like crocodiles, snakes, or venomous fish.

Montane forests:

  • High altitudes can lead to altitude sickness, which can cause headaches, dizziness, or more severe symptoms.
  • Steep slopes and rugged terrain increase the risk of falls, injuries, or rockslides.
  • Rapid weather changes, including sudden storms or temperature drops, may pose additional risks.

It’s essential to research the specific type of forest you plan to visit and understand the unique risks it may present. Adequate preparation, including packing appropriate clothing, gear, and supplies, will help you mitigate these risks and ensure a safer Shinrin Yoku experience.

Before accepting person to a Shinrin Yoku session as a guide, please make sure, to be aware of above, and communicating clearly the risks. The experience still can be relaxing one =). 


Venture on a memorable path with our 10-week Shinrin Yoku Guide Training program accredited by Shinrin Yoku Association . This journey merges the accessibility of online learning with an enriching immersion in the serene forests of Japan. 🌳🇯🇵

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