'Through the Lens', Fujingaho Magazine, April 2014
Photos and text: Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado
English Translation: Asia Club, WBSJ Volunteer Group (TAKEUCHI Fumie, KASE Tomoko)
With budding of trees withered in winter, the season of beautiful greenery has come. The fresh and bright green makes us feel relieved to find that the rich season has come back, and gives us hopes for the signs of new lives. In this season, despite my intention to take birds' photos, I often find myself to have taken a surprising number of pictures of green leaves against the blue sky. I think that's because the freshness of greenery of this season purifies even the hearts of those who see it.
For a period of time forest bathing was popular, and it seems very effective especially in the morning during the season of fresh green. According to my research in preparation for this essay, forest bathing was advocated by Forestry Agency of that time and others in 1982. Then around 2004, researchers began to verify its effectiveness with a view to making use of it in the field of preventive medical care and so on. The researches have been carried out in collaboration of industry, academia and government, which means they have been quite authorized.
It is said that the important point in forest basing is not the color of green, but the existence of "phytoncide (the smell of woods)". The volatile phytoncide wafting in the forest is known to have the effects of activating every function of our body, as well as relaxing our brains and bodies. I don't know whether it has been researched or not, but I'm sure that the smells from woods vary by season, just like the color of woods changes seasonally. I really want to know how its effects on our bodies vary on a year-round basis.
By the way, recognition of colors is considerably different from culture to culture. For example, green is generally known as a symbolic color of nature or spring, while it is a sacred color in Islamic culture and a color of envy in Western culture. There are also wide varieties in linguistic views on the color. Historically, in China and other countries which use kanji, Chinese character, and in many other cultural areas including Southeast Asia, India, Persia, Africa and Latin America, "green" didn't exist distinctly as a color name and it used to be classified into blue or yellow. For example, there are Japanese expressions like "ao-shingo (blue signal)", "ao-ba (blue leaf)" and "ao-ringo (blue apple)" to which Western people feel strange, but it doesn't mean that Japanese people really think them blue. Besides, the color variations of "green" are also different from culture to culture. Japanese has some beautiful traditional color names such as "yanagi-iro (willow green)", "wakakusa-iro (grass green)" and "moegi-iro (yellow-green)", all of which I think are a proof that Japan is rich in nature.
There are such big differences in the matter like colors on which people might have common views, so it’s natural much more differences exist in more complicated matters. I always keep in mind that especially in the case of cross-boundary or cross-cultural matters, I should confirm what common views other parties have, instead of assuming that I understand everything.