A KAIKODO Summer Exhibition Celebrating the
Practice of Shinrin-yoku, “Forest Bathing”
Being in nature is therapeutic. We take it for granted that we will be uplifted, purified, cleansed, restored by a walk in the woods. Scientists explain the effect in terms of concrete physical, chemical and psychological factors and have appropriated “forest medicine” as a science. The Japanese in their good fashion have elevated forest jaunts to something rather formal, even ceremonious. As many of us walk nonchalantly in our woods in ragged garb and well-worn shoes, the Japanese have turned this activity into an organized and regulated pursuit, with all the proper trappings, but at the heart of it, at the core of the forest’s embrace, is “bathing” in its essence to reap the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual benefits of such contact. The term conveying this concept and activity, shinrin-yoku, is the inspiration for the present exhibition.
Shanshui, “mountains and water,” or simply “landscape,” provided subjects for painters over many centuries throughout much of Asia. Among the many possible springboards leading to the creation of landscape paintings was the desire to produce accurate semblances of nature. Such realistic or naturalistic pictures were often compelling invitations to enter virtual landscape worlds without rising from one’s chair or moving from the confines of a drawing room or study. Painting conventions were such, however, that a few strokes of ink laid down on paper or silk against a blank ground or washed over with pale mists of ink were enough to spark a desire to touch the nature beyond those images, and provide balm to the “traveller’s” mind and soul. It is here where the great art of landscape painting intersects with the practice and science of shinrin-yoku, and we hope that this exhibition will serve as an alternate path to the enhanced states of being offered by an actual stroll in a real forest.