Experience the Healing Power of Yakushima’s Forests at Sankara Hotel & Spa

Yakushima, located about 60 kilometers from the island of Kyushu, is known for its verdant forests, stunning mountainous landscapes, and azure waters. The island’s varied geography makes for distinct forested areas to explore—which make it the perfect destination for experiencing forest bathing.

Known in Japanese as shinrin-yoku, forest bathing is a simple practice at its heart. You go to a heavily wooded location, quietly observe the natural surroundings, and breathe deeply. The activity is closely connected to the love of nature that lies at the heart of traditional Japanese culture, and it has health benefits: research has shown that forest bathing can improve mood and focus, while reducing stress. These healing effects have led to forest bathing growing in popularity in countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom. But Japan is still the center for this activity, and Yakushima has a particularly strong connection to forest bathing. The island is the location of the world’s first forest research site, which was established in the early 1990s.

For travelers who are interested in experiencing this activity, while also enjoying luxurious accommodations, the three-day forest bathing package offered by Sankara Hotel & Spa this June is a chance to relax and reconnect with nature. The beautiful auberge-style hotel located on a hill in the southeast of the island is known for the outstanding quality of its rooms and its world-class spa and sauna facilities, and gives guests the opportunity to go on trekking, diving, and cycling excursions, but this is the first time it has unveiled a forest bathing package. The experience is led by Makiko Sugishita, a world-renowned expert in forest bathing and forest therapy, and her husband Tomohiko Sugishita, a physician.

An Invigorating Course

On the first day, after arriving at Yakushima Airport and taking complimentary transportation to the hotel, participants can settle in, and later have an assessment taken by Dr. Tomohiko Sugishita, which establishes a baseline stress reading that will be compared to another assessment two days later. The next day is the heart of the experience.

It begins with a guided forest bathing activity with a focus on slowing down, opening sensory connections, and being in the present moment, followed by a visit to a nearby waterfall, which is known on the island as a power spot. After the tour is completed, participants will return to the hotel, where they can make free use of the sauna and enjoy 10 percent off spa treatments. The evening concludes with a dinner that highlights seasonal ingredients from Yakushima, is designed to soothe body and mind, and can be enjoyed by all five senses.

The final day begins with an optional morning yoga session led by Tomoko Kato from the Green Mount Studio as well as a handicrafts workshop where participants can make a keepsake of their time in Yakushima. The follow-up stress assessment will give participants a clear sense of how effective the activities have been in helping them relax and refresh.

Hosting the package during June, which is the rainy season in Yakushima, offers a number of benefits. While visitors to Yakushima can enjoy forest bathing throughout the year—even during the winter months, when it can be too cold for it in other parts of Japan—visiting during the rainy season means that there are fewer visitors, which makes for more peaceful outdoor spaces. And the waterfall power spot that visitors will experience during the package will be strengthened by the rains, making it even more impressive.

In the busy lives that we live today, we spend our time surrounded by forests of concrete. This is why an experience such as Sankara Hotel & Spa’s forest bathing package is all the more important: it offers you the opportunity to return to the healing environment of nature, sharpening the senses as you relax, refresh, and reflect. 

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