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Subject: Moss-viewing excursions gain popularity in Japan

Written By: Philip Eno on 07/27/15 at 9:02 am

It might not seem like the most exciting excursion, but moss-viewing trips are gaining popularity in Japan, it's reported.

Groups of enthusiasts armed with magnifying glasses have been travelling to view moss-covered areas on organised tours, the Kyodo news agency reports. The trips are particularly popular with women, according to plant ecology expert Takeshi Ueno, who leads one such excursion. He says an essential part of appreciating the tiny plants is getting down to their level, so some crawling around on hands and knees is to be expected.

A boom in the number of women hiking could explain the growing trend, Kyodo notes. "Many women admire plants and flowers as they hike, and that may have piqued interest in moss," says author Hisako Fujii, who wrote a book on the plants. But for one woman who travelled to Lake Shirakoma, in Japan's central Nagano region, to admire the moss, the pastime is simply an escape from modern life. "Seeing clusters of mosses living together, I can forget about our competitive society," she tells the agency.

Japan has several renowned moss gardens. Those surrounding Kyoto's Saiho-ji Temple are among the most famous, with an estimated 120 different varieties carpeting the ground.

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