“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.




Japan is famous for its fancy toilets, which are getting fancier all the time. But one problem with this modernization of bathrooms is that we don’t squat as much anymore. Is the increasing number of foreign tourists to blame? Even though many Westerners (well, Americans) don’t really get them?

Even if we lose the squat toilets, we still need to put squatting into our exercise routine, says this article: “What Western people stand to gain from squatting more often” (from Big Think)

Just dance around like Beyonce:


Flu jab

It’s cold and flu season. How are you arming yourself against it? Did you get a flu shot (called a “flu jab” in British English, apparently)?

This is how your body arms itself:

Here’s a TED-Ed lesson about the immune system, if you want to learn more.

I’m reading a book about Thomas Jefferson right now. Well, it’s a semi-fictional account of his daughter’s life, but it’s well-researched and contains parts of his letters. Starting in the 1780s, he became an early adopter of vaccines for smallpox (天然痘). The procedure as described in the book is primitive, but it appeared to work. Here’s a letter he wrote in 1801 describing the experiments he did, vaccinating some of his slaves (yes, it was that era) and even his children.

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.