TIME World

Staring at Moss Is an Actual Hobby in Japan

Next time you go on a hike, don’t stop to look at just rock formations, flowers and streams. Take some time to look at the moss as well. At least that’s what people in Japan are doing, anyway.

The latest travelling trend in the country is moss-viewing. Japan is home to about 1,600 of 20,000 moss species, and many sites around the country feature lush, rolling carpets of the plant. Takeshi Ueno, a plant ecology professor interviewed for The Japan Times, often leads moss-viewing excursions in area around Lake Shirakoma, considered a “precious moss-covered forest” according to the Bryological Society of Japan.

The trips are especially popular among women, according to Ueno. One participant on a moss-viewing expedition, Mari Sugiyama, said seeing clusters of mosses helped her forget about “competitive society.” “What I like (about mosses) is that they are surviving with toughness as they reach out for water and light,” she said.

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