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Shinrin-yoku & Yaorozu-no-Kami : The Japanese way of Shinrin-yoku

(Children prays for "Kami-sama(神様)"at the local Shinto Shrine)

"Yaorozu-no-Kami" is a term from Japanese mythology and Shinto beliefs. It is often translated as "Eight Million Kami" or "Myriad Gods." In Shinto, "Kami" refers to the spirits or gods that are believed to inhabit and represent various aspects of nature, objects, and even human qualities. The concept of "eight million" does not represent a literal number but rather signifies an infinite or countless number, emphasizing the vast diversity of Kami.

The idea is that there are countless Kami, each associated with different natural phenomena, places, and concepts. People may worship specific kami based on their roles, such as those related to fertility, harvest, craftsmanship, or natural elements like mountains, rivers, and trees.

"Yaorozu-no-Kami" reflects the rich and diverse pantheon of Kami in Shintoism, highlighting the reverence and interconnectedness of the natural world in Japanese spirituality.

You might wonder why I'm discussing "Yaorozu-no-Kami" in the context of a Shinrin-yoku blog.

As a native of Japan, I believe it's valuable to share insights into how Japanese people perceive gods and divine spirits in nature through Shinto (神道 or "the way of the gods"). Shinto, the indigenous religion of Japan, places emphasis on the sanctity of natural elements such as trees, rocks, and water, nurturing a deep respect for the environment.

In our culture, individuals pray to nature because we hold the belief that a divine spirit, known as Kami (God), resides in every aspect of the natural world (For more information, refer to the related blog: "The Japanese Perspective: Uncovering the Cultural Roots of Shinrin-yoku").

Unlike religions with specific founders or sacred scriptures, such as sutras or the Bible, Shinto is deeply embedded in the Japanese people and their traditions.

We commonly refer to these divine spirits as "Kami-sama" ("sama" is used to express great respect for those who are older or of higher rank), attributing different Kami-sama to everything, even a Kami-sama for the toilet!

(Meoto Iwa (The Married Rocks" in Mie, Japan)

When surrounded by nature, we reflect on the Kami-sama of the wind, the Kami-sama of the mountains, the Kami-sama of the trees, and the Kami-sama of the water. Our expressions of respect and appreciation are directed towards these Kami-sama.

A Forest Bathing walk involves not just immersing oneself in the natural environment but also bathing in the essence and spirits of these divine beings in nature. It is during this experience that a profound connection with the surroundings begins to unfold.

I hope this information adds a unique touch to your Shinrin-yoku walk, enhancing your enjoyment and appreciation of nature.

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