Shinrin-yoku: The Simple and Intuitive Form of Preventative Care

In Portland Japanese Garden’s Natural Garden, everything lives. Sunlight mills in through corridors of tree limbs and creates pockets of warmth on moss and stone. Water flows at a steady pace, creating an undertone that perfectly harmonizes with the gentle sway of branch and leaf. If a person rests in this green bastion, they will feel refreshed and centered. That’s because what they’re doing is something people have done to calm themselves since antiquity. Spending time in Portland Japanese Garden speaks to something deep within. You’re not visiting an attraction—you’re returning home.

It may feel like we have always lived in this world of steel, concrete, and gasoline, but the truth is that for 99.9% of humanity’s existence, we mostly lived among nature (Song et al., 2016). It was not even 250 years ago that we saw the start of the Industrial Revolution and a sea change in the arrangement of humankind, where we slowly dripped away from hither and yon into cities. It was only 13 years ago when, for the first time in human history, it was determined more of us lived in urban settings than rural (Ritchie & Roser, 2018). We evolved and determined our future in the wild and it will be millennia before this essential thread of our character is altered.