The Japan Times revealed almost 10 million people in Japan potentially have an alcohol dependency. However, only 40,000 to 50,000 are currently undergoing treatment. Susumu Higuchi, director of the National Hospital Organisation Kurihama Medical and Addiction Center, says Japan is a society that can push people to drink:
“However, once someone becomes [alcohol dependent], he or she is looked down on and it is not easy for that person to regain his or her status back in society after recovery.”
Business Insider published an article that recognises the significance of the Japanese corporate drinking culture, as this was how the older generation of workers established their relationships with clients and often used drinking as a bonding ritual for their own teams and employees. “During the day, the Japanese generally take a task-based approach, but the relationship building that happens in the evening can be critical to business success.” There is even an expression for this; nomunication, stemming from the Japanese verb nomu ‘to drink’ and the English word ‘communication’.
Hello Sunday Morning’s Chief Product Officer, Alex, lived immersed in this working culture in Tokyo for a few years:
“After-work drinks are almost mandatory, if you choose not to go then you are treated as the odd-man-out. One of the unspoken reasons this is pushed so hard is that ‘after work drinks’ is the only time you can air your grievances or communicate your feelings to superiors. During work hours it would be a massive disrespect to argue with your boss, so you are meant to bottle it inside and hold on for Friday drinks, during which you can have the ‘Oh, I had too much to drink’ excuse for opening up about your feelings.”
So there is a direct correlation between drinking as a way to cope with the pressures and stress from work. And if an organisation is encouraging employees to drink for business matters, they could be the ones leading them down the rabbit hole.
There is a uniquely beautiful type of therapy from Japan that could prove to be beneficial for people caught up in these over-working, over-drinking societies.
A therapy that goes by the poetic name of Forest Bathing.
So far, the Japanese government has funded about $4 million in forest-bathing research since 2004, with a goal of designating 100 official trails. At the moment, Japan has 48 Forest Therapy trails designated for shinrin-yokuby Japan’s Forestry Agency. Shinrin-yoku is a term inspired by ancient Shinto and Buddhist practices, and it essentially means to let nature enter your body through all five senses.
Psychological research supports the theory that immersing oneself in nature has proven to be beneficial to relieve anxiety and depression, boost empathy and improve cognition. Forest bathing research supports scientists to measure the effects of the cells and neurons during this experience in nature. Research, led by Yoshifumi Miyazaki from the University of Chiba and Qing Li from the Nippon Medical School in Tokyo, uses field tests, hormone analysis, and new brain-imaging technology to uncover how the benefit from these trails works on a molecular level.