Your Cool New Hobby: Moss Viewing

Caitlin Schneider
YouTube / YouTube

A modern twist on the old adage: Stop and watch the moss.

Moss viewing has become a popular hobby in Japan, where participants take to nature to see the so-called “green carpet” in action—or more accurately, inaction.

Takeshi Ueno, a plant ecology expert at Tsuru University who leads moss observation excursions near Lake Shirakoma told The Japan Times that the activity is particularly popular among women. The trend is possibly related to another newly-fashionable hobby among Japanese women: mountain hiking.

The Lake Shirakoma area has been designated a “precious moss-covered forest” by the Bryological Society of Japan. Moss viewings there started in 2011 and now happen eight times a year. They’re two-day trips, and expedition-goers are encouraged to get down with the moss—literally. They drop to their hands and knees, often with magnifying glasses, to observe the plantlife.

Japan has about 1,600 different moss species, and several celebrated moss gardens. The rootless plants don’t need soil to live, which means they can grow and thrive in a variety of places.

Mari Sugiyama, a 27-year-old office worker from Goka, Ibaraki Prefecture told The Japan Times, “What I like (about mosses) is that they are surviving with toughness as they reach out for water and light.”

[h/t BBC News]