⟨ Secret Place ⟩

Shinrin-yoku, Walking Trail


Text and Photography / Ron Lam
Translation / Ian Tsang


家附近的東谷山,由山腳至山腰都是普通的民宅,我們在住宅區的盡頭擁有一個小廢墟,籨廢墟再往上走,就是迂迴的山林小徑,也是我們常往的散步道。去年我們在廢墟辦古道具展,某天來了位兩位正在注重內心修行的朋友,他們不約而同站在廢墟前的庭園內,面向著山林小徑沉默良久,說那是Power spot,他們緩緩深呼吸,大自然在他們體內繞了一圈,我想呼出來的那口氣,定為他們帶走內心不必要的煩雜。

“Let’s go for a walk, shall we?” With the scone for breakfast just landing on my stomach, I heard my husband suggesting. Delighted, I hurriedly put on my knit cap, grabbed my keys, and stepped out of home, forgetting even to say goodbye to my cat. Nagoya — a commercial city, a city of cars, the most boring city in Japan. The Japanese see Nagoya as a place good for doing business but not ideal for enjoying life. However, there are actually forests and lakes in Nagoya too, in areas travellers very rarely set foot on.

On Mountain Togoko near my home, at the foothill and hillside, stand ordinary residential houses. We own a small piece of barren land at the end of our residential area. It leads up to winding trails in the forest, where we often go for a walk. Last year, we organized an ancient tools exhibition on our plot. One day came two of our friends who were paying special attention to cultivating their inner heart. Without prior communication, they stood, at the same time, inside the garden before our plot, where they remained silent for a long time facing the forest trails, before pointing out that this is a Power spot. They then took a deep breath, slowly, letting the Great Nature go all around inside their body. The breath they let out, I believe, must have taken away unnecessary bothersome thoughts inside their mind.

我對修行與Power spot都一無所知,只覺得於散步道裡心裡特別平靜。這天早上,我和丈夫走在散步道裡,一如往常,在這路上,我們總不自覺地不發一言,默默前行。路上除了綠蔭,就只有我們和我們自己。風吹而葉動,葉片磨擦著彼此沙沙作響,我們的腳步聲與呼吸聲,都消融在風聲與鳥鳴裡⋯⋯鳥鳴,大概是來日本渡冬的鵣吧。山路稍徒,平常不運動,步行十多分鐘便聽到心臟呯咚,心跳聲掛上冬日的枝椏上,晃呀晃。我們停下來,看著枝椏後透來了名古屋都市的景色,那麼的灰濛,彷彿給夏與秋熱情的太陽曬得掉了色,冬季就見暗淡了。


I am totally ignorant about mental training and Power spot, only knowing that I feel particularly calm on the walking trail. That morning, when my husband and I walked on the trail, as usual, without realizing, we did not utter a word, going forward in silence. Apart from tree shadows, only we two, our own selves, were there. Leaves moved in the breeze, brushing against one another, rustling. Sounds of our steps and breathing all dissolved within wind whistles and birds twittering. The twittering birds were probably thrushes migrating to Japan to spend the winter. Having walked more than ten minutes on the sloppy trail, I, who do not exercise often, could already hear my heart pounding, sending my heartbeat up on bare branches on a winter day, reverberating in the wind. We halted our steps and looked through the branches at the city view of Nagoya behind, so gray and hazy, as if it had lost all its lustre under the radiant sun in summer and autumn, becoming dark and dim in winter.

In Japanese, Shinrin-yoku is a term referring to bath in the forest. Taking a bath in the forest, we let the Great Nature cleanse our mind and heart, wiping away annoyances in life. Mountain Togoko is situated within Nagoya, and behind its forests stand Nagoya city. When we live in a city, skyscrapers and concrete meet our eyes everywhere. We are prone to forget that the land we step on at the moment originally belongs to nature, where trees abound, nourishing all living things. The roots beneath our feet connect to a distant past, when soil was yet to be covered in concrete, and forests were yet to be taken down to build skyscrapers. Perhaps that is why here in the forest, we feel as though we had returned to our nostalgic home, and our heart was aroused since we had returned to our homeland, and yet we felt peaceful and calm at the same time.