“Aimlessness is advisable.”

A quick quiz before reading:

  • What are the 5 senses? Can you name them all in English?
  • What’s the 6th sense? (not the movie)

This article from Quartz describes the concepts of biophilia (the affinity humans have for the natural world) and 森林浴 (shinrinyoku・literally, “forest bathing”).

‘Japanese “forest medicine” is the art of using nature to heal yourself—wherever you are’

When I was reading this, I read “bibliophilia” (the love of books/reading) instead of biophilia. I think reading has just as much power to heal as forest bathing, and you can certainly read wherever  you are.

Here’s some forest bathing I did in Kyoto a while ago. Definitely sublime.

Today’s post title is from this section of the article:

“To experience soft fascination, it’s necessary to meander through the woods. Forest bathing isn’t the same thing as hiking or brisk walking.Aimlessness is advisable. The tree tonic works best with minimal effort. Let your gaze be drawn wherever it wants to land.”


And on that note, I’ll be taking the rest of our spring break off from posting, to recharge my batteries.

The academic year begins again in April. I’ll be back then with more topics.

In the meantime, there’s plenty in the archives, if you’re looking for something to read, watch, talk or write or think about, in English.



The best of 2017, part 1

(image from Pixabay)

Today and tomorrow, I’ll share a couple of lists about the best of last year. Today is a list of “The 99 best things that happened in 2017” (from Quartz).

Some inspiring statistics on the list:

#27: Eleven countries are building a wall of trees on the border of the Sahara desert to slow desertification, and it’s already working. (video from BBC)

#38: 16,000 schools were built in Afghanistan, where the literacy rate increased by 5%, and the youth literacy rate increased by more than 16%. (from USAID)

#68: Almost a quarter (23%) of worlwide parliamentary seats are occupied by women. That’s up from 12% 20 years ago. (this and much more about gender equality from the World Bank)

#71: The number of biracial couples in the U.S. is now at 17%, five times as many as there were 50 years ago, when it was legalized in 1967. (from Pew Research)

#99: India and Italy banned the use of wild animals in circuses, making the total 40 countries which have done this. (from Inhabit)

Something you could do in your portfolio: make a list of a few of the best things that happened in Japan in 2017.

Hand warmers and novelty products

It’s cold! A day for カイロ (hand warmers). The first time I came to Japan was the first time I encountered these portable packets. The brand my homestay family had was ホッカイロ (Hokkairo), which totally confused me because I thought they were talking about going to Hokkaido. And then I thought that was the name of the product until I saw other brands like ホカロン (Hokaron).

Do you know the kanji? (See the bottom of this post for the answer.)

Do you know how they work?

It’s a simple chemical reaction. Basically, the packets are rusting, and the heat is just a by-product of that reaction.

Read about it in English here: “How Do Hand Warmers Work, Anyway?” (from Adventure Journal)

At the end of the article, there are several recommendations/links to purchase them. The prices in dollars on Amazon seem a little steep to me, compared to Japanese prices. Anyway, there’s also an electric hand warmer made by Eneloop, which may be better for the environment. It’s available on the Japan Trend Shop, which I’m not recommending you use to actually buy anything, but it’s a pretty funny place to browse many novelty products you’d “only find in Japan”.


The kanji for カイロ is: