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Shinrin-Yoku – A mindful Japan experience in Switzerland

“And into the forest I go to lose my mind and find my soul” – John Muir


I have been familiar with mindfulness practices such as yoga and meditation for a long time. A daily walk in the forest has also been part of my routine for years. However, I have only recently heard about Shinrin-Yoku and the Japanese health trend has awakened my interest. Unfortunately, at the moment it is not possible to travel to Japan, we hope of course that this will change soon. Nevertheless, you can still experience Japan in an authentic way here in Switzerland and increase your travel anticipation to Japan a little. In this article I would like to introduce you to Japan and the Japanese tradition Shinrin-Yoku. I will also tell you more about the coolest (and tastiest!) Japan experience in Zurich. You don’t have to travel halfway around the globe, but everybody can experience Japan here in Switzerland and its forests.

Forest bathing, a proven method from Japan

Street noise, permanent stimulus satiation, babbling voices and the various smells affect us every day. In our fast-moving times, the uninterrupted availability and information overload caused by social media is affecting the people. The perceived and experienced stress is often so big that it ends in a burn-out. In Japan, this development has been in the awareness of the public consciousness for much longer. This particularly stems from the very high population density in Japanese cities and the notorious Japanese work culture.

But even here in Europe, professional expectations and social pressure are increasing. Many suffer from the consequences of constant tension and are affected by sleep disorders and inner restlessness. In order to stay healthy, it is important to find a suitable balance to these stressful situations. Sufficient time should be available for relaxation.

Walks in the forest are good for you – especially if you perceive nature with all your senses. Why is this so? It is not only your own well-being that says that nature is good for you. It has been scientifically proven that a stay in the forest has a positive effect on our health and well-being. In Japan, the Shinrin-Yoku tradition has already become a health trend. In English, Shinrin-Yoku means “taking a bath in the atmosphere of the forest” or simply bathing in the forest.

What is Forest bathing?

When bathing in the forest you perceive nature with all your senses. The sight of green trees and pure nature has a calming effect. You can smell the freshness of the forest, feel the rough bark of the trees and hear the constant rustling of the bushes. The beauty of nature strengthens you and calms your mind. In this way, you take more and more distance from your stressful everyday life.
The positive effects of the forest bath have already been examined in numerous studies. These confirm that a trip to the forest lasting several days can strengthen the immune system and even protect against cancer. But not only the body, also the psyche benefits from a short trip to the forest. In case of depressive moods and burn-out, forest bathing can be a real stress valve and reduce inner pressure. It is therefore worth taking a short break and planning a trip to the forest.

Tips & Ideas

Of course there are courses where you can learn to swim in the forest, but you can also try it out on your own in the local forest. The aim of forest bathing is to open up your senses, to get into feeling and to perceive the surroundings more consciously. That’s why there is no exact plan, but of course there are a few tips that make it easier to get in touch with the forest. Try it out for yourself and regularly take the time to go for a walk in the forest.

  • Pause
    Take breaks again and again, stop and consciously perceive the forest
  •  Opening the senses
    Consciously observe the forest around you: What is the smell of the forest air, the moss, the bark of the trees? What sounds can you perceive? What is the temperature? How does the light fall through? What colours do you perceive?
  • Meditation
    If you find a quiet place, you can take time for a meditation. Through this mindfulness exercise, the calming and regenerating effects of the forest are intensified.
  • Breathing exercises
    Forest air is medicine to breathe. We absorb a large part of the healing terpenes through breath-ing. In addition, the forest produces oxygen, which is vital for us. So what could be more natural than doing breathing exercises in the forest. Breathing exercises help to calm the vegetative nervous system and increase vital energy.

It is important when bathing in the forest to take your time to slow down and to be able to move without any time pressure. Believe me, only a short trip has an unbelievably positive effect on your body and psyche and I am convinced that this has a long-term positive effect on your energy level and health.

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Experience Japan in the middle of Zurich

Taking a trip to Japan in the middle of Zurich and recharge your batteries with a walk in the forest – that’s possible! Use your lunch break to immerse yourself in another world, learn new things about Japan and enjoy a delicious Japanese meal. Make a short detour for a Shinrin-Yoku experience at the Käferberg forest, or enjoy your Japanese lunch box at the Kumo6 itself.

The Japan expert Ronja Sakata has created a unique Japan walk together with the Kumo6 at Bucheggplatz. You can pick up a lunch menu & the accompanying Japanese audio equipment directly at Kumo6. For a small deposit you get headphones, 5 Japanaudios, cheat cards (with cool tips for the right Japanese etiquette) to take away. You will also get a delicious lunch menu (in compostable take-away dishes or with your own Tupperbox you will even get a discount!)

No matter if you are planning to travel to Japan soon, want to learn more about Japanese culture, try a delicious Japanese meal or just want to break out of your everyday life, the “Züri” Japan walk is worth it!!I had the chance to experience a walk in Japan together with Ronja. With the cool pink headphones, a delicious vegan lunch dish and the most likeable Japan expert I was able to experience a relaxing lunch break in the middle of a calming forest environment.

For the walk you can choose if and which audio you want to listen to. Of course you may take the audios as downloads including 4 cheat cards as pdf for printing at home.

Ronja tells you with her friendly voice about the do’s & don’ts of going to a restaurant in Japan, train rides in Japan or staying overnight in a Ryokan (traditional Japanese hotel). It is also good to know that a little bit of Japanese is a must for a trip to Japan 🙂

Have you become curious and would like to try out the Shinrin-Yoku trend yourself? Or do something good for your well-being? Or has Japan long been on your travel bucket list? Even if travelling to Japan is currently not possible. The various facets of the country can be discovered even within Switzerland’s borders. If you are curious and want to enrich your everyday life with a pinch of Japanese inspiration, why not go for a walk in the forest? You can find more Japanese adventures in Switzerland and tips for a future trip to Japan at the Japanese National Tourist Office (JNTO).

What Japanese discoveries or experiences have you made in Switzerland?

Participate in the raffle! Post your photo on Instagram with the hashtag #JAPANINSWITZERLAND until September 6th at 24:00 and mark the photo with my account @naturellymichaela
Among the participants I give away 2 Japan sets. The book «Japan, für dich ein Spaziergang!» and the matching cheat cards will enrich you with many inspiring tips and insights into Japanese culture. I am already looking forward to your entries!

*Contribution is in friendly cooperation with JNTO

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