Publisher: Nippon Medical School/Penguin Books.
Genre: Non-Fiction, Health, Nature, Spirituality.
Review in one word: Immersive
This is one of the most supremely nourishing books to gift yourself or someone you love. Shinrin-Yoku is your guide to the ancient Japanese art of ‘Forest Bathing’, which is the English translation of the eponymous title.
I wasn’t expecting much from this book but I was overjoyed that it was amazing. You should expect to have your five senses tickled by this book which will make you yearn to see a forest – right now!
Expect evocative journeys into smell, touch, taste and sound as well as a deep exploration of the visual cues that you can enjoy in a forest. There is a focus on the epic, deep green forests and animals of Japan from the tropical south to the alpine north.
There are recommendations for sacred forests to visit in Japan, which tantalised and excited me to go back to that amazing country. There are culinary and aromatic recommendations too for bringing the forest into your home. All of it paired with evocative full colour photos.
This book was a revelation for me, as it articulated the mental, physical, spiritual and communal benefits of having a forest or many trees nearby. I always knew that going for a walk under a dense canopy of trees revived me and made me feel better, no matter what kind of state I was in before.
However, I did not know that hundreds of health and medical studies have come to the same conclusion. Having forest, trees or greenery around you (either in your home, a nearby park or backyard) can help you to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, lowers your risk of diabetes and obesity – in short it helps you to live longer. The mental health benefits are enormous, many studies have shown that Shinrin-Yoku is linked to reduced anxiety and depression.
I suppose if you enjoy walking or hiking then you will understand all of this intuitively, but it’s nice to know that this isn’t just your imagination, or a personal experience, but rather a universal one.
This book packs a punch as it speaks to those selfish, unaware and ignorant people who ask ‘What’s in it for me?’ in regards to saving forests, ecosystems and the natural world. This book answers that question quite succinctly and clearly.
For human health reasons alone – forests, meadows, parks and other green spaces should always be preserved. Their destruction in the name of economic progress robs future generations of the same simple pleasures that we have all been privileged enough to enjoy.
This book was immersive in the same way as going into a forest is immersive. You almost feel cloaked and protected by the good energy of the book itself. If you are a nature lover or animal lover, can’t recommend this book enough!