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Akasawa Natural Recreation Forest

HOME > Japan’s Local Treasures > Akasawa Natural Recreation Forest

 

A forest bathing experience among historic Kiso cypress trees

Agematsu Town Tourism Association

 

 

Recognised as one of the three most beautiful forests in Japan, Akasawa Natural Recreation Forest in Kiso, Nagano, is Japan's first designated natural recreation forest.

 

This ancient place has been protected since the early Edo period (1603-1867) and is home to many Kiso cypress trees that are more than 300 years old. The forest is also renowned as the source of the sacred wood for Ise Grand Shrine, which is rebuilt from scratch every 20 years in a ritual known as Shikinen Sengu.

 

Akasawa National Recreation Forest is the birthplace of shinrin-yoku, the practice of mindful engagement with the forest, also known as forest bathing. Scientific experiments conducted among the trees have shown that forest bathing enhances immune functions and reduces stress hormones, benefits that are attracting attention from experts in preventative medicine in both Japan and abroad.

 

There are seven walking paths meandering through the forest, enabling visitors of all physical abilities to take in the beautiful scenery, sounds and smells. For those who want to engage more deeply with the experience, forest therapy guides are available.

 

The beauty of the changing forest can be enjoyed in spring, summer and autumn, but early summer, when the forest is replete with fresh greenery and the climate is comfortable, is the best season for forest bathing. Please note that the hiking trails are closed in the chilly winter months.

 

Akasawa is also famous for its ‘forest rail’, a heritage railway that was once an important mode of transport for forestry tasks in the Kiso Valley. Nowadays, it is visitors rather than timbers that ride the Akasawa Forest Railway, on a nostalgic 25-minute train journey beneath the towering cypress.

 

How to get there

 

20 minutes by bus from JR Agematsu Station.

 

 

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