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“People come out from the city and literally shower in the greenery,” our guide Kunio explained. Elfin, with noticeably large ears, he told us to breathe in for a count of seven, hold for five, release. Like many Japanese day hikers, he was carrying an inordinate amount of gear, much of it dangling from his belt: a cell phone, a camera, a water bottle, and a set of keys.
On subjective tests, study participants also report better moods and lower anxiety.
Finland, an empire of boreal spruce and pine, is also funding numerous studies.
“Japan showed us that there could be cooperation between forestry and medical fields,” says Liisa Tyrvainen of the Finnish Forest Research Institute.
He was kicking rocks out of the way and overseeing the setup of a netted, canopied mini-lab.
The next morning, he and Lee would bring 12 male college students here, to measure their brain activity and vital signs after walking and sitting and generally forest bathing.