lifestyle

3 lessons on simplicity from Japanese moms

15 Comments
By Kate Lewis

When our first child was born, my husband and I were committed to being as minimalist as possible. We eschewed most of the baby accessories deemed “necessary” and put away many of our son’s unwrapped birthday presents from friends and family, eventually reusing them the following year. He’s a child, we thought. There’s a big wide world to explore. He didn’t need stuff.

Yet when we moved to Japan, we realized how very far we were from the life of simplicity we wanted to instill in our family. While struggling onto a priority train car with an overladen stroller and an enormous diaper bag, I looked for a moment at the Japanese moms. Their babies were snuggled comfortably in backpack-style carriers; no heavy bags in sight. They looked nothing like the pack mule I felt like and I knew there was still a lot to learn. Moving to Japan had made it perfectly clear — it was time to simplify.

There are three main lessons I’ve observed from Japanese moms, which make their lives — and their outings with their children — far easier.

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© Savvy Tokyo

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.


15 Comments
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So far I've heard...

Lesson #1 Sleep in another room after baby comes. Lesson #2 Give me all the money. Lesson #3 Give me all the money.

18 ( +21 / -3 )

Oh, puh-leeze. If having babies is so incredibly simplistic and "joy sparking" then why are people refusing to have them?

8 ( +11 / -3 )

From the article 1) Carry your child 2) Ditch the diaper bag 3) Simplify Your Stuff

I always assumed that carrying the baby in a carrier rather than a stroller had to do with taking public transportation. It's really hard and inconvenient to use a stroller when you have to take it on the train or bus. And as far as ditching the diaper bag, I've seen plenty of Japanese moms who either carry a diaper bag or just have a bigger purse so they can fit in things for the baby. The article talks about how it's unnecessary for moms to carry a lot of items with them in Japan because there are plenty of convenience stores around to purchase what they need. So this isn't really a lesson that people living abroad can use.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

2 kids here, imho Tokyo is pretty convenient to carry babies around with only a couple of spare diapers and a couple of milk bottles pre-filled with powdered milk. I've only realized this when I was in Hong Kong, it was hard to find toilet, and malls don't have baby room where you can change diaper and get hot water for milk.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I am always amused and somewhat empathetic when the new gaijin family transfers arrive in Tokyo and line up in the morning line to get on to a packed subway car with a huge Scandinavian size stroller, and the look of utter bewilderment in the mother's face. Never saw any of them able to push it on the train,,,

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I always assumed that carrying the baby in a carrier rather than a stroller had to do with taking public transportation

Exactly, the carriers are good for saving space on public transport or crowded, narrow places. My baby is heavy as heck so after awhile in the carrier, I have to change to the stroller. Malls and supermarkets also have great carts that children love to ride in.

I found that instead of carrying a diaper bag, put all of the necessities in a backpack. Easy to carry and keeps your hands free. Oh and I am not sure about Tokyo, but convenience stores I have been to in Kansai don't really have baby-related products.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In Japan, however, moms carry their babies. Everywhere. All the time.

Please STOP with over generalizations! Bugs the hell out of me that people write such articles, and people who are unaware of the reality take it as a "fact" when it's the farthest thing from it!

The "snugglies" and "baby carriers" are relatively recent in coming to Japan. Folks used to carry babies on their backs, piggy back, or called here, onbu, おんぶ, PLUS do not forget that prams sell here like crazy too, and don't forget bike seats, etc etc etc. Stop with the over generalizations!

Nursing rooms stocked with privacy screens, changing tables and microwaves for heating water for formula are found in every department store.

Don't be shocked to learn that this is NOT true either. Be forewarned, NOT all department stores have these amenities!

A dramatic reorganization of the home causes corresponding dramatic changes in lifestyle and perspective,” Kondo insists in her book. “It is life transforming.”

The true story behind the article! A plug for minimalism at the expense of stereotyping and over generalization!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

@thepersoniamnow - I have been giving my Japanese wife "all the money" now for about 35 years ! Has worked wonderfully for us. Built our first house in our early 30s. Put two sons through college. Built another house in our 40s, . . . . . etc. Think I'll keep it up !

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@Kurobune

Good then, I hope you two keeping on keeping on. I'm not sayin one thing necessarily, but I am saying it how it is. The practice is alright, but the automatic insistence of it, and the bullying that happens afterwards, is detrimental when they aren't both able to see eye to eye on the issue. Such as the husband or wife not wanting to do something, but being forced or bullied to. I can also tell you that I know of at least 8 people that divorced over this, but if it works for you then more power to you and your excellent accountant. When it works, and you both have a good relationship it's alright. When it's not totally mutual it's a recipe for disaster.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@thepersoniamnow - I have been giving my Japanese wife "all the money" now for about 35 years ! Has worked wonderfully for us. Built our first house in our early 30s. Put two sons through college. Built another house in our 40s, . . . . . etc. Think I'll keep it up !

Just make sure the either the land or the house is in your name! (Just kidding, I've been doing the same for decades as well and I have nothing to complain about either)

Can't say I put our sons and daughter through college though, they all went stateside and their tuition was over $60K per year, not including room and board. If they had chosen to stay in Japan...yeah it would have been a breeze, but....what the hell, it's just money!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

More of the same, tired, generalizations, and I was not at all surprised to see Kondo's book plugged in the article, a book Japanese like to pat themselves on the back for some reason, like they'd written it themselves and it's world-famous when I've never met as single person who's heard of it outside Japan, nor that many Japanese who know it to begin with.

I see baby carts being pushed around ALL THE TIME, and with bags underneath or behind stuffed with diapers and what have you, and I also see plenty of places that still don't have changing stations. I see a lot more than I used to in terms of facilities, true, but still a big lag. And yes, I DO see a lot of people with the carriers as well, but definitely a lot of strollers (always worry about them on the crowded trains/buses when people are hogging the handicapped/baby stroller space).

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@Yubaru ... excellent comments!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Kondo's book plugged in the article, ... it's world-famous when I've never met as single person who's heard of it outside Japan,

It's a best-seller in France. I'm tired of hearing about it and being asked if I missed the "minimalism" of Japan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I only buy what I need.

There is one thing they left out. Even though lots of mothers carry their babies, in one hand they always have a cell phone, and the other hand is always texting. No facial interaction at all with the baby. Put the DAMN Phones away. I hate them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Oh, puh-leeze. If having babies is so incredibly simplistic and "joy sparking" then why are people refusing to have the

Tessa, did you even read it? You completely missed what was said. It's not about having babies, it about being minimal when traveling around with a baby where Japanese moms have their babies strapped onto them using a harnes rather than a massive stroller when out and about.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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