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A Little Book of Japanese Contentments: Ikigai, Forest Bathing, Wabi-sabi, and More (Japanese Books, Mindfulness Books, Books about Culture, Spiritual Books)

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With the longest healthy life spans in the world, Japanese people understand the art of living well. This beautiful book distills traditional Japanese philosophies intrinsic to wellbeing, providing easy-to-follow exercises to inspire those who want to live a happier, more balanced life. With sections on kokoro (heart and mind) and karada (body), plus a guide on how to form With the longest healthy life spans in the world, Japanese people understand the art of living well. This beautiful book distills traditional Japanese philosophies intrinsic to wellbeing, providing easy-to-follow exercises to inspire those who want to live a happier, more balanced life. With sections on kokoro (heart and mind) and karada (body), plus a guide on how to form and nurture good habits, the book includes entries on ikigai (living with purpose), wabi-sabi (the beauty of imperfection and impermanence), shinrinyoku (forest bathing), ikebana (the art of flower arranging), and much more. Richly illustrated, A Little Book of Japanese Contentments is a warm invitation to cultivate contentment in everyday life.


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With the longest healthy life spans in the world, Japanese people understand the art of living well. This beautiful book distills traditional Japanese philosophies intrinsic to wellbeing, providing easy-to-follow exercises to inspire those who want to live a happier, more balanced life. With sections on kokoro (heart and mind) and karada (body), plus a guide on how to form With the longest healthy life spans in the world, Japanese people understand the art of living well. This beautiful book distills traditional Japanese philosophies intrinsic to wellbeing, providing easy-to-follow exercises to inspire those who want to live a happier, more balanced life. With sections on kokoro (heart and mind) and karada (body), plus a guide on how to form and nurture good habits, the book includes entries on ikigai (living with purpose), wabi-sabi (the beauty of imperfection and impermanence), shinrinyoku (forest bathing), ikebana (the art of flower arranging), and much more. Richly illustrated, A Little Book of Japanese Contentments is a warm invitation to cultivate contentment in everyday life.

30 review for A Little Book of Japanese Contentments: Ikigai, Forest Bathing, Wabi-sabi, and More (Japanese Books, Mindfulness Books, Books about Culture, Spiritual Books)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mar B

    3.3 stars This is such a beautiful book with its zen, aesthetic pictures and started so promising! In the introduction the author promised to "share with you [...] not just aspects of Japan and its culture in the abstract, but philosophies and strategies that have helped me get through some of the hardships, barriers and trials of modern everyday life" And I was SO looking forward to it! I expecting this book to be one of those books with a "magical quality" that, even if it is nonfiction/self-he 3.3 stars This is such a beautiful book with its zen, aesthetic pictures and started so promising! In the introduction the author promised to "share with you [...] not just aspects of Japan and its culture in the abstract, but philosophies and strategies that have helped me get through some of the hardships, barriers and trials of modern everyday life" And I was SO looking forward to it! I expecting this book to be one of those books with a "magical quality" that, even if it is nonfiction/self-help, takes you to place that feels out of the ordinary. I and it kinda was! BUT It just "brushed off" the practical aspects. I needed it to go deeper on the promised strategies so I could take something with me that were helpful and memorable enough to really help me with "some of the hardships, barriers and trials of modern everyday life". Bookblogger and  Fantasy Writer passionate about TrueStory, OwnVoices, Diversityand Equality, especially Feminism & GirlPower Find me here: linktr.ee/d.ark.studio Email: [email protected]

  2. 5 out of 5

    Gina

    3.5 - 4 stars I am a wee bit head over heels for Japanese culture that way that some are fascinated by the French chic lifestyle. A Little Book of Japanese Contentments is a sweet book. I do wish that some of the information would have featured photos. For instance, the author details the tools of Sumi-e, and photos of each tool would have been very helpful. There are three sections: Kokoro (the heart and the mind), Karada (the body), and Shukanka (forming the habit). Each section is divided into 3.5 - 4 stars I am a wee bit head over heels for Japanese culture that way that some are fascinated by the French chic lifestyle. A Little Book of Japanese Contentments is a sweet book. I do wish that some of the information would have featured photos. For instance, the author details the tools of Sumi-e, and photos of each tool would have been very helpful. There are three sections: Kokoro (the heart and the mind), Karada (the body), and Shukanka (forming the habit). Each section is divided into several chapters which address the section's topic. In addition to little gems of advice, the author includes lovely illustrations and photographs. This book falls a bit short of perfect for me, as I would have liked a bit more depth of content and photos that directly corresponded to the content. Perhaps this is a formatting fail in the ebook?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Teresa Andreani

    Author Erin Nimii Longhurst describes herself as a half- Japanese, half-British writer and blogger. Drawing on her Japanese heritage, her childhood living in Japan, and conversations with her family members, she crafted this reference book of Japanese traditions and offers suggestions for how to adopt these “contentments” to bring harmony to one’s life. It’s a delightful collection of short commentaries and instructions. This little book is both an explanation of Japanese culture and a handy ref Author Erin Nimii Longhurst describes herself as a half- Japanese, half-British writer and blogger. Drawing on her Japanese heritage, her childhood living in Japan, and conversations with her family members, she crafted this reference book of Japanese traditions and offers suggestions for how to adopt these “contentments” to bring harmony to one’s life. It’s a delightful collection of short commentaries and instructions. This little book is both an explanation of Japanese culture and a handy reference book (complete with index and glossary).

  4. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Carbery

    In 2017 I had a horrible interview to teach English in Japan that was cut short the moment they asked about my mental health. Japan, I learned, will not issue you a work visa if you have ever been on anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication. I was depressed and hurt. I was angry. I still am. So I chose to read this book to challenge my views and my pain. I am really glad I did. First things first, Erin Niimi Longhurst is exactly the person to write this book. Sure, she is a lifestyle blogger, In 2017 I had a horrible interview to teach English in Japan that was cut short the moment they asked about my mental health. Japan, I learned, will not issue you a work visa if you have ever been on anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication. I was depressed and hurt. I was angry. I still am. So I chose to read this book to challenge my views and my pain. I am really glad I did. First things first, Erin Niimi Longhurst is exactly the person to write this book. Sure, she is a lifestyle blogger, which usually means very little for true self-help. But Longhurst is different. Longhurst has a degree in social anthropology from University of Manchester. This is not a cute Japanese girl writing about cute Japanese things. This is an intelligent Japanese social scientist analyzing the elements of her culture that are going to work for and benefit others. Getting into the book itself it is important to note that it is a mental health friendly book. Longhurst offers no great cure-all for the human condition. Instead she confronts her own struggles in relation to the Japanese traditions that soothe them. For insistence, Longhurst shares a story about going to Japanese school to learn the characters while her friends were in Girl Scouts--she missed out on standard fun but came away with a skill that has shaped her mentality towards time management. Of the three parts of the book I found part two, Karada (The Body) to be the least helpful. This is the part where Japanese minimalism comes in (not my style no matter how many books/Netflix shows try to tell me otherwise, give me that Ukrainian American cozy clutter!). There is even a bit about tsundoku which I do not believe is a real thing. What does that word mean? It is the "phenomenon of accumulating books that remain unread". That is just a collection and I won't be ashamed of it. This section also covers food ways and arts. The third part, Shukanka (Forming the Habit) is the most obvious self-help section. It is insightful and encouraging. It is here that Longhurst shows how she wants readers to act upon what they have learned and how to enhance day to day life. She discusses her own failing and struggles here, which is vastly humanizing. Exceedingly the best part of the book was the first section, Kokoro (The Heart and the Mind). This is where ikigai, wabi-sabi, and kintsugi are discussed (your life purpose, finding beauty in imperfection). The philosophies presented here are comforting and gentle. They are the kinds of ideas that even the most broken hearted of people can use to mend. It is a well written section that does not skimp on compassion in order to save face. If you read one modern Japanese cultural study or one Japanese self-help book this year A Little Book of Japanese Contentments should be it. It is rousing, thought provoking, and sympathetic in a way that uplifts the reader naturally.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Setasha Hall

    This book is full of a lot of really interesting concepts and information. I've read a lot of books on Japanese culture and mindsets and this was honestly my favorite one so far. It describes a lot of words that only exist in Japanese that do not have direct English translations. This book is full of a lot of really interesting concepts and information. I've read a lot of books on Japanese culture and mindsets and this was honestly my favorite one so far. It describes a lot of words that only exist in Japanese that do not have direct English translations.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Udisha

    I loved reading this book. I've been a huge fan of Japanese culture and cuisine for many years now so I was really intrigued to learn about the numerous philosophies that form the foundation of Japanese society. Along with wisdom, this book also contains several Japanese recipes that I am going to come back to again and again (as I gain more confidence in my cooking skills). A great way to start the new decade. I loved reading this book. I've been a huge fan of Japanese culture and cuisine for many years now so I was really intrigued to learn about the numerous philosophies that form the foundation of Japanese society. Along with wisdom, this book also contains several Japanese recipes that I am going to come back to again and again (as I gain more confidence in my cooking skills). A great way to start the new decade.

  7. 4 out of 5

    fuminator

    The title intrigued me and I bought this book rather haphazardly. I enjoyed reading it as I understand the contents well. I think the author tries to illustrate the perspectives of life through the Japanese traditions and values. I presume she wrote this book because she is finding contentment by recognizing the influences of her Japanese mother, grandparents and the rituals she experienced by living in Japan – her roots. She made some outstanding statements and I expected more elaboration on ho The title intrigued me and I bought this book rather haphazardly. I enjoyed reading it as I understand the contents well. I think the author tries to illustrate the perspectives of life through the Japanese traditions and values. I presume she wrote this book because she is finding contentment by recognizing the influences of her Japanese mother, grandparents and the rituals she experienced by living in Japan – her roots. She made some outstanding statements and I expected more elaboration on how she arrived at those values. But I felt like the book became more like a travel book explaining some Japanese cultures and not enough correlation to her main message in the end. The cultures are important factors to identify who you are. She did a wonderful job illustrating a life perspective using the explanation of Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery. I wanted to read more of that, I guess. Nevertheless, an excellent choice for the title of the book! I hope the readers will be inspired to search for their own contentment by reading this book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Taylor

    An aesthetic look at Japanese culture, from the nature of being to ramen recipes. Many topics are briefly introduced for a simple understanding or to pursue further outside of the book. Entertainment, design, and easy implementation is the focus. You often won’t find more than a few sentences on a concept or tradition. If you have a basic understanding of Ikigai or Wabi-Sabi, this book won’t expand on that. The author’s intro sounds like she is rediscovering her Japanese heritage and learning al An aesthetic look at Japanese culture, from the nature of being to ramen recipes. Many topics are briefly introduced for a simple understanding or to pursue further outside of the book. Entertainment, design, and easy implementation is the focus. You often won’t find more than a few sentences on a concept or tradition. If you have a basic understanding of Ikigai or Wabi-Sabi, this book won’t expand on that. The author’s intro sounds like she is rediscovering her Japanese heritage and learning along with the reader. Her comments on the changeability of Japanese homes was my favorite bit. Good for a broad look at Japanese culture, from the top five walks in Japan to the eight essential strokes in Japanese calligraphy. Each page's design is unique and calming. Even as an ebook it looked great.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Victoria Manning

    A delightful little book... a cozy companion... learning so much about my favorite culture. good ideas and inspirations. The illustrations are adorable. This book will be a treasure I will cherish forever.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Robyn

    This is a really lovely text, both in terms of the content and the aesthetic. I was drawn to a number of the ideas presented as mainstream Japanese cultural awarenesses, like the meditative aspects of ikebana (way of flowers) and sado (way of the tea). The role that everyday tasks play in Japanese society appeals to me, as these are things that are often overlooked and taken for granted in other cultures (like mine). Another aspect of this work that appeals to me is that it reminds me of my fath This is a really lovely text, both in terms of the content and the aesthetic. I was drawn to a number of the ideas presented as mainstream Japanese cultural awarenesses, like the meditative aspects of ikebana (way of flowers) and sado (way of the tea). The role that everyday tasks play in Japanese society appeals to me, as these are things that are often overlooked and taken for granted in other cultures (like mine). Another aspect of this work that appeals to me is that it reminds me of my father, who lived in Japan for a couple of years and who appreciated Japanese culture in a way that didn't make a great deal of sense to me when I was younger. His adoration of French culture was much more relatable to adolescent-me because he had a close childhood friend who lived in Bordeaux. Engaging with the cultural ideas and values presented in this text seems like a way to keep him a part of our lives, especially since so many of the suggestions are appealing in their own right: For example, we already use a genkan (entryway for removing shoes on entering the home) and onsen (languor in baths and vacation to soak in regional hot springs). The kotatsu (heated tables/quilts) sound so divine, I could easily see us adding that to our home. In that vein, I might read this again with an eye toward applying some of these concepts to our home and lifestyle. And even if I don't, I am certainly walking away from this read with an idea of specific products to purchase from our local markets -- our area has so many great Asian shops and restaurants. We have enjoyed taiyaki many times from a local shop not 5 minutes away!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Micah Krabill

    A wonderful and easy to read book that shares a lot of digestible, but important concepts from and elements of the Japanese lifestyle. As a non-Japanese American raising half-Japanese children in the US with my Japanese wife and trying to ensure our children experience their Japanese heritage, this book especially touches home with insights from an author that bridged multiple cultures and brought many valuable lessons from her Japanese heritage into her life in another country. The book introdu A wonderful and easy to read book that shares a lot of digestible, but important concepts from and elements of the Japanese lifestyle. As a non-Japanese American raising half-Japanese children in the US with my Japanese wife and trying to ensure our children experience their Japanese heritage, this book especially touches home with insights from an author that bridged multiple cultures and brought many valuable lessons from her Japanese heritage into her life in another country. The book introduces several concepts I'd maybe tangentially heard of or felt the edge of in trips to Japan or conversations with my wife and her family, but that I didn't understand well or appreciate sufficiently. I'm thankful for this book's introduction to bringing some of these aspects into my own life and for a beginning vocabulary and understanding for helping bring more Japanese culture to my sons' lives.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    This book exploited on my obsession with Japanese culture. I loved every minute reading this book and remembering things, big and small moments, of my time there. The most impactful/favorite pieces in the book: 1. Ganbare Encapsulates the spirit of “do your best” and “don’t give up” 2. Wabi-sabi Too difficult to describe fully, but appreciating the beauty of aging (in more than just humans) 3. Kintsugi Fixing that which is broken than throwing away and starting new. Items and more are priceless and u This book exploited on my obsession with Japanese culture. I loved every minute reading this book and remembering things, big and small moments, of my time there. The most impactful/favorite pieces in the book: 1. Ganbare Encapsulates the spirit of “do your best” and “don’t give up” 2. Wabi-sabi Too difficult to describe fully, but appreciating the beauty of aging (in more than just humans) 3. Kintsugi Fixing that which is broken than throwing away and starting new. Items and more are priceless and unique when mended 4. Shoganai A willingness that things cannot be changed. 5. Shinrin-yoku Nourished by nature 6. Onigiri! 7. Onsen Hot springs and bathing, the sacredness and relaxation of the activity 8. How to bring Japanese influence in your home and life There was a ton in this book that I loved (hence the 5 stars), but these were the things that will continue on with me.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Juhi

    I picked this up in a local bookstore and was hooked after the first few pages. As she details some of her favorite Japanese traditions, she reminds the reader of the beauty that comes with treating each moment with attention and care. After reading, I wanted to bring that same tenderness into each cup of tea I make or each flower I pick and press. I hadn’t realized I’ve been forest bathing for months now LOL but I’m so glad to have joined such a long standing tradition. One of my favorite parts I picked this up in a local bookstore and was hooked after the first few pages. As she details some of her favorite Japanese traditions, she reminds the reader of the beauty that comes with treating each moment with attention and care. After reading, I wanted to bring that same tenderness into each cup of tea I make or each flower I pick and press. I hadn’t realized I’ve been forest bathing for months now LOL but I’m so glad to have joined such a long standing tradition. One of my favorite parts was about “shoganai”, the flexibility and willingness to accept that which cannot be changed. Kintsugi, the art of repairing cracked pottery with gold, is another practice whose meaning makes my heart feel a little bit bigger. This is the kind of book I’d go back and re-read over and over again, knowing I’d discover something new each time.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Hanlon

    It is challenging to write a primer or a survey of this nature without leaving readers dissatisfied. Those who have read a great deal on Japan and the topics Niimi Longhurst touches on would come away disappointed for a lack of depth. The less familiar with the subject could struggle to get their bearings on the subject within this survey. For the most part Niimi Longhurst finds the balance. There are insights or perspectives that add nuance or metaphor to familiar topics and enough depth and de It is challenging to write a primer or a survey of this nature without leaving readers dissatisfied. Those who have read a great deal on Japan and the topics Niimi Longhurst touches on would come away disappointed for a lack of depth. The less familiar with the subject could struggle to get their bearings on the subject within this survey. For the most part Niimi Longhurst finds the balance. There are insights or perspectives that add nuance or metaphor to familiar topics and enough depth and detail to keep novices engaged. Personal anecdotes help flesh things out. The only knock I would voice is that her discussion of decluttering is too close to the writing of Marie Kondo.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Prateek

    I was intrigued about Japanese culture since long and wanted to read about it. Thus, picked this book which plays many roles - a travel guide, a cook book, a self help book, a guide to Japanese culture. However, it didn't turn out to be as meaningful as I thought. More than the content, I admired the perspective that author adopted to explore and present her roots which inspired me to look at my own roots rather than imbibing practices from a foreign land. Of course, there is plenty of similar r I was intrigued about Japanese culture since long and wanted to read about it. Thus, picked this book which plays many roles - a travel guide, a cook book, a self help book, a guide to Japanese culture. However, it didn't turn out to be as meaningful as I thought. More than the content, I admired the perspective that author adopted to explore and present her roots which inspired me to look at my own roots rather than imbibing practices from a foreign land. Of course, there is plenty of similar rituals in one's own culture. This book manages to unveil the mysterious japan to some extent and acquaints the reader with popular Japanese terms.

  16. 5 out of 5

    luv4pez

    There are a lot of beautiful pictures included in this book. The author is thorough at explaining certain aspects of Japanese culture, but sometimes it's a little too thorough. For me there was too much about food, including detailed descriptions of the many different types of soy sauce. I stumbled onto this book while learning more about ikigai. It's interesting and informative. Definitely worth a read. There are a lot of beautiful pictures included in this book. The author is thorough at explaining certain aspects of Japanese culture, but sometimes it's a little too thorough. For me there was too much about food, including detailed descriptions of the many different types of soy sauce. I stumbled onto this book while learning more about ikigai. It's interesting and informative. Definitely worth a read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Simon Firth

    This is an easily digestible introduction to a number of key concepts in Japanese culture through the eyes of a cosmopolitan young woman of Japanese and European descent. It's not especially penetrating or profound and the design is fairly cliched, but as a Westerner who has visited Japan just once, I learned new things and even dogeared a number of pages for future reference, including a couple of recipes. This is an easily digestible introduction to a number of key concepts in Japanese culture through the eyes of a cosmopolitan young woman of Japanese and European descent. It's not especially penetrating or profound and the design is fairly cliched, but as a Westerner who has visited Japan just once, I learned new things and even dogeared a number of pages for future reference, including a couple of recipes.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Carey

    Great book on centering and focusing your life on what’s important in a lot of little ways. I took lots of quotes from here to reflect back on. My favorite: We often are so focused on meeting a specific target or goal that we forget to take in and be thankful for the things that already surround us and bring us happiness.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    Pick up Japanese lifestyle tips on living with this book-- from Ikigai ( a reason for being encompassed in joy and purpose) to Wabi-sabi (the beauty behind the acceptance of the imperfect). You can look at it as self-help or an immersion in Japanese culture. Either way (or both)... it's worth a look. Pick up Japanese lifestyle tips on living with this book-- from Ikigai ( a reason for being encompassed in joy and purpose) to Wabi-sabi (the beauty behind the acceptance of the imperfect). You can look at it as self-help or an immersion in Japanese culture. Either way (or both)... it's worth a look.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    This was a nice, light read for my airport layovers. I probably would have benefited from reading this before I had traveled to Japan. There's lots of photographs, which looked lovely on my tablet. This seemed to be a decent introduction to some aspects of Japanese culture but I wish the author would have gone into more detail on "forest bathing." This was a nice, light read for my airport layovers. I probably would have benefited from reading this before I had traveled to Japan. There's lots of photographs, which looked lovely on my tablet. This seemed to be a decent introduction to some aspects of Japanese culture but I wish the author would have gone into more detail on "forest bathing."

  21. 4 out of 5

    Susan Szeliga

    I'm enjoying this sweet book, even as I'm finding it a little cliché. There are certainly things about modern Japanese culture that are troublesome. They are not in this book. Here we find forest bathing and a calm perfect cup of tea. The format of the book compliments the writing style and beautiful, simple illustrations. I'm enjoying this sweet book, even as I'm finding it a little cliché. There are certainly things about modern Japanese culture that are troublesome. They are not in this book. Here we find forest bathing and a calm perfect cup of tea. The format of the book compliments the writing style and beautiful, simple illustrations.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Juls

    A beautifully illustrated handbook of sorts for the person, like me, who loves Japanese traditions. Written by a young Japanese/British blogger, the book is a quick yet very informative read. I call it a handbook because I know I’ll be going back to it to reference specific traditions I’d like to implement in my own life.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Edy

    I’ve always been head over heels for Japanese culture- it’s combination of simple modernism and elegant traditionalism. This book does wonders for describing the calming effects of introducing daily Japanese rituals into our chaotic Western lives.

  24. 4 out of 5

    RC

    Excellent insight into Japanese culture Erin's book is a fun adventure into some interesting aspects of Japanese culture. There's also a huge self-help, self awareness angle that can be very helpful. Excellent insight into Japanese culture Erin's book is a fun adventure into some interesting aspects of Japanese culture. There's also a huge self-help, self awareness angle that can be very helpful.

  25. 5 out of 5

    debra

    Wonderful guide to a beautiful culture A trip to Japan will definitely show you how much there is to know about the people and culture. Since my trip I have longed to learn more. Good guide

  26. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    I just love picking this up and reading a page or two...it really makes me smile!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dan Burt

    3.5 stars.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Patterson

    Lovely, accessible, elegant lil guide to the essence of many Japanese customs. It scratches the surface but feels like a great place to dip your toes in - lovingly written.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    I enjoyed reading this little book that’s packed full of useful information on Japanese culture, traditions, recipes, and ways to live in the moment.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Pitkin

    Have loved Japanese culture for years. Here's another reason why. Have loved Japanese culture for years. Here's another reason why.

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