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The Healing Power of Shinrin-Yoku: Japanese Forest Bathing

Shinrin-yoku, directly translates to “forest bath”. The term emerged in 1982, when the Japanese Ministry of Forestry coined Shinrin-yoku as a physiological and psychological exercise. This was to offer a natural remedy to citizens for tech-boom burnout relief and to inspire reconnection with and protection of Japan’s forests. 

These traditional baths are a mindful Japanese bathing practice. One immerses themselves in nature to intentionally receive therapeutic benefits by using all five senses. Shinrin-yoku plays an immense role in preventative healthcare and healing in Japanese medicine. The research findings that are associated with the healing properties of Shinrin-yoku specifically puts a point on the therapeutic effects provided on the immune system by increasing natural killer cells aiding in cancer prevention. The cardiovascular system by lowering pulse rate and blood pressure. Depression and anxiety by reducing cortisol levels which relieves stress. Mental relaxation for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. As well as human feelings of “awe” which is an increase in gratitude and selflessness. 

Shinrin-yoku is a form of nature therapy, and in the Concept of Nature Therapy it is stated that this is “a set of practices aimed at achieving ‘preventative medical effects’ through exposure of natural stimuli that render a state of physiological relaxation and boost the weakened immune functions to prevent diseases.” Exposure to stimuli of all five senses has a direct effect on immune function recovery by increasing the parasympathetic nervous system and a heightened awareness that leads to a state of relaxation and preventive medicinal effect. 

In short, forest bathing or spending time in nature in general is beneficial both mentally and physically. And the practice of shinrin-yoku is very simple as well. Take some time away from this fast-paced world, head to a heavily forested area, soak mindfully and let the trees work their magic.


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