The Best Places to Indulge in Forest Bathing in Kyoto
Kyoto’s lush forests and cherry blossoms
While everyone is talking about cherry blossoms right now, the green season that follows is one of the best times to immerse yourself in Kyoto’s lush forests. It’s when Kyoto locals like to stretch their legs, go on hikes, and enjoy a picnic on the outskirts of the city. It’s a particularly good time for forest bathing known as ‘shinrin-yoku’. Known to rejuvenate mind, body, and soul, find out where to enjoy this simple pleasure at any time of year in Kyoto.
Forest bathing and its benefits
Forest Bathing and its benefits have been recognised by the Japanese government since 1982 and it is even endorsed by the Forest Agency of Japan as a way of improving quality of life. Shuhei Akahoshi, General Manager of Kyoto City Tourism Association (DMO KYOTO) says that contemplative walks through the woods that reconnect the individual with nature can lead to decreased stress, natural mood elevation, and even a stronger immune system. Forest Bathing, can be enjoyed throughout the year, however, the fresh green new growth in spring is a wonderful time to enjoy the pursuit and rejuvenate mind, body, and soul. From bamboo groves to zen temples, we have selected our favourite Kyoto areas and places to indulge yourself in nature and reap the benefits.
Takao – just outside of Kyoto
Takao: the great outdoors: Escape the city and step into the woods in Takao, a mountainous area to the northwest of central Kyoto. Popular amongst hikers Takao is home to several ancient temples, but while they may seem hidden away here in the forest, each has surprisingly important connections to Japanese history and particularly to the development of Buddhism in Japan.
Kozan-ji Temple, Kyoto
Kozan-ji Temple: One of the temples to visit in the area, stands in a mountain forest with towering cedar trees lining the path to the temple. A quiet and secluded place, Kozan-ji’s charm lies in its atmosphere. You can sit on the temple’s veranda overlooking the Kiyotaki-gawa river valley, admire the scenery of green hills, listen to the forest sounds. The grounds are also home to the oldest tea field in Japan and the first ever ‘manga’ scroll.
Keihoku – discover another Kyoto
Keihoku – discover another Kyoto: In this northern part of Kyoto you will find Japanese cedars and cypresses and an air of serenity, with glimpses of mountains beyond. This area is just over an hour out of town, and still considered part of Kyoto city. A tranquil woodland in a stunning mountainous region it’s a great place for a farm stay or back to nature exploring.
Arashiyama – the famous Sagano Bamboo Fore
Arashiyama – the famous Sagano Bamboo Forest: In Kyoto’s west, the most famous bamboo grove is undoubtedly the one located on the north of Arashiyama’s Togetsukyo Bridge, and rightly so. Visitors can stroll long paths lined with endless rows of towering bamboo. The experience has been described as other-worldly, serene, and dreamlike. The pathway is open 24/7, go early or late to avoid crowds.
Nishikyo-ku – Bamboo Forest
Nishikyo-ku- Bamboo Forest: West of central Kyoto, the Nishikyo-ku ward is one of Japan’s centres of bamboo growing. Most of Kyoto’s traditional bamboo crafts and building materials are made from bamboo grown in this area. For those who would like to escape the crowds of the popular sites, Nishikyo-ku has a lot to offer.
Kyoto City Rakusai Chikurin Bamboo Park
Kyoto City Rakusai Chikurin Bamboo Park: Half an hour southwest of Kyoto station within the Nishikyo-ku ward, this is a beautiful yet little-known hideaway. The boundary of the park is lined with bamboo plants along a serene and quintessentially Japanese-style path that stretches 1.8 kilometres. A place where visitors can breathe deeply the crisp, quiet air of a bamboo forest. The museum inside the park is an educational facility that showcases bamboo instruments and crafts, as well as historical bamboo artifacts.
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