Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - 13

FEATURE

FOREST BATHING - JUST DO IT!
BY JAMIE TROST, CERTIFIED FOREST THERAPY GUIDE

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 shrubs, flowers and trees. The greening 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.

S

pending 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.
Back then, excessive work hours and the infatuation
with the Walkman were the biggest issues, and the evidence
that getting outdoors is important was largely anecdotal. In
the decades since, both our attachment to devices and the
proof that we need time away from them have increased
exponentially. Forest bathing and forest therapy programs
exist across the globe, and new research continually
highlights the benefits of absorbing nature.
Yoshifumi Miyazaki, a professor at Chiba University
near Tokyo, was one of the first to study the effects of forest
LIVINGARCHITECTUREMONITOR.COM

Forest environments can lower concentrations of
cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure,
increase parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower
sympathetic nerve activity (Bum Jin Park et al, 2009)
Observing the natural world by sitting or walking
slowly through nature has been shown to increase
heart rate variability, an indicator of lowered stress
(Hiromitsu Kobayashi et al, 2018)
Forest therapy can help to improve psychological and
physiological symptoms of chronic widespread pain
where more conventional methods have failed (JinWoo Han et al, 2016)
Nature immersion can help those suffering from
PTSD (Dorthe Varning Poulsen et al, 2016)
Phytoncides emitted by some trees can raise the NK
(natural killer) white blood cell counts (Quing Li, 2007)

LIVING ARCHITECTURE MONITOR / SUMMER 2019 / 13


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Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019

Table of Contents
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - IP
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - Cover
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - Cover 2
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - Table of Contents
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - A1
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - 1
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - 2
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - 3
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - 4
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Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - M1
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - A2
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - A3
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - A4
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - A5
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