Trees of tranquility

De-stress in Kyoto in a forest to soothe the soul

International travel
Atmospheric: Admire the lush green hills and listen to the forest sounds at Kozan-ji Temple.

Atmospheric: Admire the lush green hills and listen to the forest sounds at Kozan-ji Temple.


"Forest bathing" said to lower stress, lift mood and even strengthen the immune system.

Otherworldly: The famous Arashiyama Bamboo Grove on Kyoto's western edge.

Otherworldly: The famous Arashiyama Bamboo Grove on Kyoto's western edge.

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.

And it's a particularly good time for "forest bathing", or shinrin-yoku, which, despite its name, has nothing to do with immersing yourself in a fluid.

Rather, it means contemplative walks through the woods that reconnect the individual with nature and can lead to lower stress, natural mood elevation and even a stronger immune system.

Known to rejuvenate mind, body and soul, forest bathing and its benefits have been recognised by the Japanese government since 1982.

From bamboo groves to zen temples, here are some favourite Kyoto areas and places to indulge in nature and reap the benefits.

Takao - the great outdoors: Escape the city and step into the woods in Takao, a mountainous area to the northwest of central Kyoto.

Popular among 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. Learn more HERE.

Kozan-ji Temple: One of the temples to visit in the area, Kozan-ji stands in a mountain forest with towering cedar trees lining the path to the temple.

A quiet and secluded place, its 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 and listen to the forest sounds.

The grounds are also home to the oldest tea field in Japan and the first ever manga scroll. Learn more HERE.

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. Learn more HERE

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 otherworldly, serene, and dreamlike. The pathway is open 24/7, go early or late to avoid crowds.

Learn more HERE.

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 at the popular sites, Nishikyo-ku has a lot to offer. Learn more HERE.

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. It's 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 artefacts. Learn more HERE.