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From Japan, the joy of minimalism at home

34 Comments
By KATHERINE ROTH

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34 Comments
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lol

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

I live this way. I keep basically nothing. I even trash all my email.

My goal is to make life easier for those that clean up after my departure from this earth.

...do not even have a couch or a chair. Not bad for 70 meters squared.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Interesting, would love to read this, I keep WAY too much junk around that noone needs.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

If Ms. Kondo could see my office, she would suffer instant apoplexy. I can't remember the last time I saw the floor in here.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

If there were a big dumpster nearby, I would de-clutter in a jiffy.

Sadly, I'm afraid of the evil eye if I ever trash anything other than the proper materials wrapped up in the proper bags.

When I lived in the states I'd often use a service called "junk to the dump." You'd pile it up, they'd come and haul it away.

But those scary dudes were nowhere near as cute as this girl.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I used to work part-time as a kind of secretary for a university prof in Fukuoka. His subject was ergonomics, specialising in the workplace environment. Never mind the floor, I don't think I actually saw his desk even: books, papers, fast-food wrappers, half-drunk cups of coffee all over the place. Oh, and he collected "interesting stones".

A brilliant man, but not exactly a good advertisement for his calling....

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I think Marie Kondo is quite smart. Less is more.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

She's the antithesis of those hoarders in my neighborhood who picks up stuff that others throw away or hold on to things they do not need. There is a TV program in Singapore called 'RenovAid' in which a poor household is selected for a makeover. When the TV host first visits the house or apartment she is always faced with tons of unneeded things accumulated over the years which the owner is reluctant to part with. Through persuasion volunteers are then called in to clean out the place before the interior renovators can begin their job. Hoarding of stuff is a sickness that usually afflicts the poor and some not-so-poor. I love this Japanese minimalism thing and I believe it is part of their culture.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I have been doing this a bit of late, tossing stuff I don't need & trying to get the mrs to do likewise with mixed success.

Lots of work to do, I am also looking do really downsize for retirement, already bought the place which is my office for the next 10-15yrs & then the plan is to sell the house & downsize & have suggested we start de-cluttering around the house bit by bit, we'll see how it goes.

I think its wise as clutter adds stress I think & I am having less & less desire to buy "STUFF" like I used too!

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I can't quite agree with the concept of Japanese minimalism and how it's portrayed in this article. I'm thinking her service is so popular because there is such a chronic problem with clutter in Japanese homes and workplaces. Granted, a lot of people live in tiny apartments, but sometimes the amount of clutter I've seen in people's homes and work areas is out of control. I've been invited into more Japanese homes that were completely full of stuff that you could tell wasn't necessary than homes that were neat and minimal. People's desks in their office here are on another level altogether.

Great service she's offering. It's a much needed one here.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

It would be nice to see doctors start using computers and clean out all those folders in the front office space.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It's nice to have a clean minimalist place to live as an adult! If she where to have kids at some point they must be allowed to make a mess sometimes or have toys not instantly needed.

There are two extremes, on is the mess where you can barely see the floor and the other is where everything is almost sterile and clean all the personal stuff is gone too.

If you keep a basic order and can vacuum you house once in a while and trow away old fast food and used office supply's and so on you are good to go.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

For me, clutter is usually the result of productivity. I like to see the mess I make. Seeing a work mess puts me in the mood to work.

I can agree with the principle of getting rid of unused or unwanted items, but why use this language of "communing" with your posessions? Why talk about being kind to my shirts as if they're objects that have moral significance? She worked in a Shinto shrine, so maybe that's where she gets it.

Let's talk about maximizing the practical and psychological benefit of your organization strategy. But viewing objects as things which deserve respectful and appreciative treatment seems like a strange kind of super-materialism.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

why use this language of "communing" with your posessions? Why talk about being kind to my shirts as if they're objects that have moral significance?

It's actually a very Japanese trait. Right from when Japanese people are kids, their parents teach them to be nice to their toys, and attribute feelings towards inanimate objects. It's called animism, and Shintoism itself basically is based around animism, so between being Japanese and working at a Shinto shrine, this is probably why she talks this way.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

As cute as she I couldn't let her near my stuff.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

The wife was always good at this. Whenever the kids came home from nursery school with a train made of egg-boxes, or a rabbit made from cotton wool and cardboard, she'd take a "special photo" to remember it by and then chuck it away.

The kids never seemed to mind. They just wanted their "special photos".

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I still have some Dinky Toys from when I was given them nearly 50 years ago...

0 ( +3 / -3 )

If she thinks I’m going to throw away my book, CD and DVD collections, she’s got another think coming!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Trying to clean up but wife does not want to dispose of anything.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Leigh you took the words right out of my mouth. For a country so famous for its minimalism, Ive yet to see it in action in a typical Japanese apartment. Ive never seen so much junk, clutter and mismatched items strewn over every available surface and crammed into every cupboard, usually one with glass doors so you can see it all for yourself.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

I guess the last stop in rampant Japanese consumerism is thanking the stuff they buy and hiding it behind buying more stuff to put your stuff in and putting a cover all "minimalist" label on it.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Sure, try to get rid of your unnecessary clutter and objects, but this is easier said than done, especially for those who are poor or relatively poor. In that case, there is always the fear of not being able to buy new things.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Best seller in Japan? Most homes I've been into here are jam packed with clutter, junk and furniture. Everything has to be on view, it seems. The floor seems to be considered a suitable place for storage too, especially in the kitchen.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

//I can't remember the last time I saw the floor in here.

I got smart, now I take a photo of the floor when I move in, then later, when I can't remember what colour the flooring is..I can just look at the photo. Saves all that tidying up.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

This lady is noooot the # 1 who wrote abt that. There are hundreds of book abt 物を捨てる。Nothing new and very banal.

Pictures of things are not real memories. Real "omoi de" are real things. I've never ever throw away my kids first pictures, first handmade presents for me etc. They have separate plastic cases which are full now with our family sweet memories. A couple of plastic cases don't take so much place ))))

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I do online auctions. If that don't work, take them to a recycle shop that accepts everything. Big ones take everything. I'd rather get a few yen than nothing.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Pictures of things are not real memories. Real "omoi de" are real things.

That's a matter of opinion.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I still have some Dinky Toys from when I was given them nearly 50 years ago...

And people like you are the reason that museums exist. Four hundred years from now someone may be looking at your Dinky Toys and trying to imagine you as a boy. Lovely.

That said, 400 years from now perhaps the insects will have been the highest life form to survive our consumerist antics...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Elizabeth Heath

”Best seller in Japan? Most homes I've been into here are jam packed with clutter”

That's exactly why this book is popular. If every house in Japan was clean and organized then nobody would be buying this book, duh

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It would be nice to see doctors start using computers and clean out all those folders in the front office space.

All charts are put into a computer. You're thankful for the paper charts when you lose electricity for 2-3 weeks after a quake, though!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Kudos to this woman for trying to spread the message that we should throw out (get rid of) things we don't need, but to suggest it is something 'Japanese' or 'Shinto-like' to have a house free of clutter is so outrageously backwards that I wouldn't even know where to begin saying she's wrong. Go into ANY office or home and you are going to find it FAR more cluttered than counterparts in most other nations. A large part of this is due to physical space, of course, but a lot more of it comes down to buying stuff you simply don't need and won't use (much) when you can still use the old stuff if it is similar. Along with telling people they need to look at what they have and see if it brings them joy (and if not, to discard it), I think she needs to suggest people ask themselves before buying something if they TRULY need it, where they will keep it if they buy it, how long and what they will use it for, etc. Also, I wish she would encourage people and businesses to find ways of getting used clothes and goods to people who need them if said goods are still in a condition to be used -- I see people through out stuff that people in other nations, or even in Japan that are in shelters, would benefit immensely from having (a slightly different problem, granted, but still) -- push MORE on the donation front!

As for this: "“There’s no need to let your family know the details of what you throw out or donate,” she writes, although she advises against secretly disposing of other people’s things."

Sorry, but 'not letting your family know' about things you throw out if it's something you share as a family is 'secretly disposing of their things'... or at least, partly.

Anyway, again, there's nothing distinctly Japanese about appreciating things you've used and thinking fondly of them while using them or when getting rid of them. There are still those who practice 'harikuyou' when throwing away used/broken appliances or goods, but that's not what we're talking about here exactly. I always try to keep as light as possible, be it travelling or living, because I've moved so many times I know it's a pain in the butt and meaningless to lug around and hoard up space for things you never use. It's hard to throw out certain things, and not just pictures and other momentos, but it's not THAT hard. In fact I often make it a practice if I have no plans to go through boxes or cupboards and recycle/toss/donate things I don't realistically think I'll use again.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

to suggest it is something 'Japanese' or 'Shinto-like' to have a house free of clutter is so outrageously backwards

smith, She does not say it is a Japanese thing or it does not exist in other countries. She simply said she applies the approach of her experience at shinto shrine to the work. In other words, looking at it from a spiritual perspective or something.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Thanks to the "ABISSnomics", the tendency for the average sarary man is very minimalist... salary, weekly shopping and so on.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@HideSuzuki. Shame people aren't reading it, probably just adding it to the piles of crap they already have in their homes and feeling smug that they've bought it.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

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