Shinrin-Yoku: Forest Bathing Year-Round, Indoors and Outdoors, for All

by DerdriuMarriner

Forest bathing began in Japan in 1982 for wellness outdoors even though it now belongs as nature and people-friendly therapy elsewhere and even indoors.

Forest bathing adjusts to indoor and outdoor adaptations anywhere in the world there are actual trees or their approximations even though shinrin-yoku first appeared in Japan as human and tree health-friendly therapy.

Dr. Qing Li, Japanese Society for Forest Medicine chairman, broaches standard practices and variations in Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness. The term comes from Tomohide Akiyama's campaign as Director General of the Agency of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan to conserve forests and curtail stress. Maps before and after the four-chapter, 301-page text, with 111 illustrations, designate 10 of Japan's 62 forest therapy bases and 40 "beautiful forests across the world."

Collective, organized forest therapy and customized, individualized forest bathing expedite healthy anti-cancer proteins, blood pressure, blood-sugar, concentration, immunity-enhancing natural killer cells, memory, metabolism, moods and weight.

forest path with bamboo fence

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, western Kyoto, central Honshu Island, central Japan; Thursday, August 10, 2006, 10:54:51
Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, western Kyoto, central Honshu Island, central Japan; Thursday, August 10, 2006, 10:54:51


The introduction and four chapters respectively follow Japanese relationships to forests, forest bathing since pioneer studies in the 1980s, standard practices, indoor variations and future implications. 

Shinrin-yoku gets practitioners to grasp forest sights, smells, sounds, tastes and textures during on-site breathing, meditation, qigong, t'ai chi or yoga routines and on wildlife-mapping walks. Japan has scented, wind-rustled azaleas, bamboo, beeches, black and umbrella pines, camellias, cedars, cherry, chrysanthemums, cypresses, fig, firs, gingkos, laurels, oaks, rhododendrons, spruces, walnuts and wisteria. The green archipelago's forests include earthy scents from non-pathogenic Microbacterium vaccae ("microbacteria [first cultured from] cow [dung]") and hot-spring, rainy, waterfall smells of petrichor ("rock essence"). 

Birdsongs, in crowd-pleasing, 2,500- to 3,500-hertz frequencies, join shinrin-yoku sounds of roaring waterfalls, rushing rivers and wind-kocked bamboo in the Ministry of the Environment's 100-soundscape archives.


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Shinrin-yoku knows natural silence, "free of man-made noise," similar to the red stone-marked "one square inch of silence" in the Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park, Washington. 

Natural silence leads to natural-tasting, shinrin-yoku fare of angelica, bamboo and fiddlehead-fern shoots, bracken, burdock, butterbur, day-lily, knotweed, lotus root and royal fern sansai ("mountain vegetables"). Dr. Li mentions forest bathing opportunities in beautifully forested Australia, Bangladesh, China, India, Malaysia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka; Brazil and Costa Rica; and Congo and Morocco. He notes similar shinrin-yoku in beautifully forested Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania and United Kingdom; and Canada and the United States. 

National and state forest cabins and lookouts, national and state park lodges and public parks offer forest bathing opportunities for shinrin-yoku practitioners in the United States.


Majestic lodges and natural scenery of national parks, from soaring Douglas fir in the great hall of Glacier Park Lodge or sun setting into the Grand Canyon at El Tovar.
PBS series companion book
Stunning nature and historic landmarks, from the Grand Lake Hotel in Yellowstone National Park, to the classic Lake Quinault Lodge in Olympic National Park, to the visionary Volcano House in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park.
volume two
Glacier lodges/Pacific Northwest lodges; Grand lodges/Canyon lodges; The West lodges/Pacific Rim lodges
Great Lodges (PBS box set)
Recipes from legendary lodges, National Parks lore, wilderness landscape art
Big Sky Ensemble companion CD


Potted azaleas, bamboo palms, chrysanthemums, English ivy, gerbera daisies, golden pothos, mother-in-law's tongue, orchids, peace lilies, red-edge dracaena, spider plants and succulents put forest bathing indoors. 

Bowled cedarwood shavings, essential oil-scented candles of sumac wax and rush wick and essential oil-scented reed diffusers queue up carbon dioxide-absorbing, oxygen-releasing, phytoremediating (air-purifying) forest bathing. Cedar, cypress, false-arborvitae, pine and spruce essential oils release, as phytoncides ("plant kills [predators and rots]"), basil-scented, dill-smelling beta-pinene, lemony D-limonene, piney alpha-pinene and resinous camphene. Heated whirlpools and hot tubs serve up the negative ions that forest bathing sends the way of shinrin-yoku practitioners near hot springs, rivers, streams and waterfalls. 

Charley Harper animal and plant artwork, essential oils, family animals, houseplants, mountain vegetables and warm soaks turn park and forest bathing into shinrin-yoku during downtimes indoors.


"Charley Harper was an American original. For more than six decades he painted colorful and graphic illustrations of nature, animals, insects and people alike, from his home studio in Cincinnati, Ohio."
Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life
more than 300 previously unseen illustrations by Charley Harper, American Modernist artist famous for National Parks Service artwork
Charley Harper's Animal Kingdom
Charley Parker's self-described Minimal Realism style highlights standout features of wild animals living in America's National Parks.
Animals in America's National Parks
Set of four glasses in gift box: two bear glasses and two deer and fox glasses
Charley Harper Great Outdoors Glasses Set of 4 by Todd Ol...



My special thanks to talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the internet.


Image Credits


forest path with bamboo fence
Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, western Kyoto, central Honshu Island, central Japan; Thursday, August 10, 2006, 10:54:51: oliveheartkimchi, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons @,_Arashiyama,_Kyoto_(oliveheartkimchi).jpg; olivia cheung (oliveheartkimchi), All Rights Reserved, via Flickr 2


Sources Consulted


Li, Qing. 2018. Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness. New York, NY: Viking. 


the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

My kittycat Rennie has a treat-share in my Amazon commissions.

Rennie mews his thanks to readers of this page and hopes our product selection interests you.
Me and Gusty, who brought Rennie home with her one day
Me and Gusty, who brought Rennie home...
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 06/10/2024, DerdriuMarriner
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DerdriuMarriner on 10/06/2023

Thank you for stopping and welcoming imaginations, lifestyles and meditations that prioritize our plant life, be they cultivated or wild, be they in our gardens or in our parks.

Every day I attempt to begin, every evening I attempt to end, with a barefooted walk -- bewaring of fallen chestnuts and walnuts ;-D -- between the porch and the retaining wall and between the latter and the driveway. That area, as everything else around Chicory Cottage, looks like a forest floor with bare soil, blue and white violets, field and surprise lilies, moss, non-turf grass and wild onions and strawberries.

So I understand the peace that lovely plants give you too.

dustytoes on 10/05/2023

That bamboo forest image is pretty amazing! We must preserve the national parks and wild lands, especially as this world fills up with people who seem to want to cut it all down. Just reading this page gave me peace as I envisioned the lovely plants.

DerdriuMarriner on 02/20/2019

WriterArtist, Thank you for appreciating forest bathing in our naturally blue and green world. Albert Einstein said that understanding comes from looking deep into nature.

WriterArtist on 02/09/2019

Reading this article brought memories of me walking in forest and farmlands. I for one always prefer greener areas to movies and theaters. For me waterfalls, National parks and Nature hold more promising moments than skyscrapers and urban areas. Love the idea of forest bathing and the benefits it brings as by products. Not to mention clean air and stress free environment.

DerdriuMarriner on 10/22/2018

katiem2 and AngelaJohnson, Me too, I particularly enjoy birds and also headphones and podcasts. My favorites at this time of year tend to be the bluebird's "purty purty purty" and the ovenbird's "teacher teacher teacher."

DerdriuMarriner on 10/22/2018

AngelaJohnson, Walking among trees, be they in designated nature areas or not, counts as shinrin-yoku. Supposedly the bare minimum commitment to feel the effects at one time is just a 20-minute session, about the time of a work break ;-D.

katiem2 on 10/22/2018

Indeed, good for the mind, body and soul

AngelaJohnson on 10/22/2018

I love to walk on nature trails, although I don't get too many chances. But I do walk every day around neighborhoods that have lots of plants and trees. Once in a while I use headphones and listen to podcasts, but most of the time I don't, and enjoy hearing birds chirping.

katiem2 on 10/19/2018

I am drawn to it, all things nature beckon to me, care for me and heal me in every way imaginable. Again, great article!

DerdriuMarriner on 10/18/2018

katiem2, Thank you for the visit. It's not surprising that with your appreciation of nature and emphasis on aesthetics, health and well-being you'd already know about forest-bathing ;-D.

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