Relax in Tokyo: Japanese Art, Crafts and Mindfulness
Japan has a long tradition of meditation and mindfulness, which has been shown to improve psychological health and increase happiness. The country also has a rich history of art, and taking time out to view classic pieces or practice traditional crafts are activities that require mindfulness and produce similar calming effects to meditation. Moving and living abroad can be stressful, and as you become accustomed to calling Tokyo home, you may, at times, feel anxious or homesick.
Whether you take time out to immerse yourself in one of Tokyo’s many galleries or join a group to learn and practice traditional Japanese crafts, the focus and mindfulness necessary for these activities can reduce feelings of anxiety and help you feel more in control.
Self-Care Through Mindful Japanese Art
Staying healthy while traveling and living abroad will help you to make the most of all the new experiences on offer. Many people are concerned about avoiding illness while traveling and take steps to minimize health risks. Staying up to date with vaccinations and taking out adequate insurance will give you peace of mind about your physical health, and the care you’ll receive should you fall ill. However, spending time in a foreign country may also have an impact on your mental health, contributing to feelings of anxiety and homesickness. Simple mindful exercises can help with self-care, and a great way to be more in the moment, while at the same time learning more about Japanese culture, is through art. The history of Japanese art spans thousands of years, from ancient woodblock prints to contemporary manga, so there is a wide choice of art forms in which to immerse yourself.
Viewing Art Galleries in Tokyo
Tokyo is home to hundreds of art galleries, ranging from large public institutions such as the Metropolitan Art Museum to many smaller cutting edge galleries where contemporary artists exhibit their work. Taking a break from the often overwhelming bustle of the city to look at beautiful works of art can be very relaxing, and studies have shown that viewing art can boost your mood and lower levels of stress. As you immerse yourself in an innovative modern art installation at The Bathhouse in Taito, or admire iconic Japanese prints at the Sumida Hokusai Museum in Sumida, powerful mood-enhancing neurochemicals are released in the brain, leaving you feeling less anxious after your visit.
Practicing Crafts Reduces Anxiety
Focusing on creating art can help you clear your mind and feel calmer. This is particularly true of traditional Japanese arts and crafts, which require great concentration and, for this reason, are particularly conducive to lowering stress and reducing anxiety. With a history linking it to Buddhist philosophy, practicing Ikebana, the creation of simple and balanced flower arrangements, has been shown to reduce stress and dispel unpleasant feelings. And when engaging in the art of calligraphy, concentrating on the feel of the paper, the soft brushes and sweeping movements can produce the same benefits of meditation, reducing stress through focusing the mind.
Immersing yourself in local culture and being more mindful of your surroundings can provide great comfort when living away from home in an unfamiliar city. As well as learning more about Japan’s rich history of art, visiting galleries or practicing arts and crafts can reduce anxiety and calm the mind.
Written by Katlyn Francis