Last month (April 2015), Time Magazine published its annual list, The 100 Most Influential People. The list features celebrity ever-presents like Kanye West and Kim does my bum look big enough in this Kardashian, as well as political heavyweights, Obama, Putin and Merkel. Rubbing shoulders with these luminaries are two Japanese entries, Haruki Murakami and Marie Kondo.
Anyone who’s asked the question, Who’s a famous Japanese author?, should need no introduction to Murakami. Kondo on the other hand, might raise a few eyebrows.
Visit Kondo’s Wiki page and you’ll see she’s referred to as an organizing consultant. To put this in language that everyone will understand, Kondo is an expert at tidying up living/working space, and is whiz when it comes to folding clothes. Such is her expertise, it’s lead to best-selling books, TV dramatizations … and a place on Time’s list with a glowing introduction from 80s-90s movie megastar Jamie Lee Curtis.
OK, but why should I care?
If you’re already in Japan, the following should be abundantly clear, but if you’re not here yet, learn this - living spaces over here are small! Add to this a nation of residents who love shopping and you’ve got a whole load of clutter with no attic space, garage or garden shed to put it in! Enter Marie Kondo. So, if you’re having trouble keeping your place tidy, maybe Marie could be of help. Her hit book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing is available in English. Her website is here.
Kondo’s appearance on the list is particularly timely. There seems to be something in the air over here causing people to open up out about … not being able to tidy up! These days it’s not unusual to turn on the TV and see camera crews fighting their way into residences, literally bursting at the seams with clutter, the owner of which has just about managed to clear a solitary human-sized space in which to put themselves. A highlight of such programming and one that might prove useful to any of you struggling to keep things tidy is Shiawase Bombi Garu/幸せボンビーガール (Nippon TV, channel 4, Tuesdays 10 pm). Happy Bombi Girls. Bombi is a play on the word bimbo/ビンボウ/貧乏, meaning poor (in terms of money). The show usually focuses on young, single women trying to make the most of life with little in the way of income.
A regular feature on the show is Mori Izumi 100 yen Seikatsu/森泉100 yen 生活. Seikatsu means lifestyle. In this feature, rich girl, actress, model, DIY expert Izumi, visits a bombi garu’s home to assess the extent of their clutter. She then races off to a 100 yen store to shop for parts, putting them together to make all manner of multifaceted hangers, clutter organizers, and storage providers. The show has some great ideas which you can try for yourselves. If you’re not sure you’re on the right channel, Izumi is the one in the screaming pink, velour tracksuit. Now, get yourselves to the 100 yen shop!
It’s hard to believe one might reach a point of being so untidy that a team of professionals is required. Such services do exist in Japan, though. And let’s be clear on this; we’re not talking about cleaners. We mean people who come and put your c@#p away. DUSKIN are one such service provider. They can sort out your closet space, under your kitchen sink and overhead storage spaces. At 15,000 - 20,000 yen for two hours though, you might want to try out Izumi’s 100 yen constructions first! An Internet search for 片付けサービス/kataduke sa-bisu will turn up more options.
If you need advice on cleaning (of the rubber gloves and elbow grease variety), check out our earlier article, Clean Up Your Act: Essential Products For Keeping The Home Clean In Japan.