We’re back!

Sorry for the extended hiatus. We were finishing up our move to Italy and it took more time and focus than expected due to Covid-19 implications. We were fortunate though, as we were well prepared, had Covid tests done before we left and all the paper work we may have needed. In the end, nobody stopped us during the two trips we took with our furniture and other household items. We drove twice from Germany, on consecutive Sundays, it was really spooky to see the highway through the Alps, which is normally packed with traffic, completely empty.

Anyway, back to Japan…. Day 3.

My first JR train experience was a breeze

The App I recommended in an earlier post was indeed amazing, it tracks in real time all the trains along your route so you can make transfers very quickly, it even tells you which track or platform to go to, even if there was a last minute change.

I arrived at Kiso Fukushima the day before my first Shirin-Yoku private experience. I picked a very appropriate spot to spend the night, a cabin campground in the middle of the forest at Kiso, one train station before Agematsu, where the Akasawa forest, birthplace of Shinrin-yoku is located.

I booked this spot through AirBnB. The host picked me up at the train station because their campground is of course located quite a ways away from the town and there is no public transportation available. We stopped by a store on the way to buy some food since the campground did not sale any.

It was really a beautiful spot and a great way to immerse myself into the natural environment of Nagano prefecture and got to know their amazing Kiso-Hinoki tree. I also learned a few interesting things…

The wooden cabins were small, basically the size of a large tent with bunk beds. They had a large porch which was great since it was raining the first evening. They had sliding doors in the front and a window in the back. Well distributed and not very crowded so you got the feeling of full forest immersion. There was a small pond, stocked with fish. To heat up the cabin there was a small kerosene heater. The smell took me back to my childhood in Argentina, but it got old pretty quick. After a short time, I had to open the window a bit more to let some fresh (and quite cold) air in. The bunk bed “mattress” was a tatami mat. This was my introduction to sleeping on one. The bed gear consisted of a very thin yoga mat and a sleeping bag, no pillow.

I noticed that the entire camp was empty as it was the middle of the week, and the staff left before sundown, so I was there all by myself. I had a small “what if” moment, but it quickly vanished after I had a sip or two of the Sake I picked up at the store. I spent a genuinely nice time alone, getting acquainted with the Japanese forest, listening to the rain, enjoying the wood’s bright wet smells and the taste of the local rice wine. All was well.

Later I zapped my dinner at the shop’s outdoor cooking area and setup the “table” on the bottom bed as the cabin had no actual table or chair.

I guess it was some sort of “glamping” experience I was having. It was wet and chilly outside, the most important part was that the bathrooms, though in the middle of the woods, had the now famous heated toilets which I was growing so fond of…

Tomorrow was a big day, the next morning, the campground keeper was going to take me back down to the train station. I will take the 9:00 am train to Agematsu town where staff from the Akasawa Forest Therapy Centre were picking me up. I was quite pumped that I was going to the very place where Shinrin-yoku was first practiced over 30 years ago.

Next, arrival to Agematsu station and the Shirin yoku session in Akasawa forest, where I was treated like a king.


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