Sourced from the Living Architecture Monitor
For most people in the modern world, nature has become anything but natural. Millions of people spend their days locked to screens large and small, inside buildings or vehicles that keep us separated from plants, flowers and trees. The green-ing of interiors has arisen as a way to provide an infusion of nature without decreasing productivity. But the only real remedy for our innate need for nature is nature itself.
Spending any amount of time in the natural world is a benefit. But slower and more absorptive contact with nature has shown to have increased benefits. In Japanese, the term shinrin yoku is used to describe this meditative experience in the natural world. Translated as “forest bathing,” shinrin yoku can involve interacting with water, but doesn’t literally involve physically bathing in a tub, or even a forest stream. The immersion is of the senses, possibly in actual water, but also in the soil, air, sunlight, and sound that we often ignore.
This practice of deeply appreciating the details of nature fits perfectly into Japanese culture, which is underscored by the animist philosophies of Shinto. But while events like cherry-blossom viewing, or Hanami, have been a national pastime for centuries, don’t go looking for references to forest bathing in the Tale of Genji or any other ancient texts. The term was coined in 1982 by Tomohide Akiyama, then minister of the Japanese Forestry Agency, as part of a campaign to make citizens less sedentary and more appreciative of the environment, especially Japan’s forests.