Housekeeping Lessons from the Japanese

Tidiness and home organization is a universal trend lately during the pandemic as we are mostly at home. With the popularity and aspiration to have a home like that of Marie Kondo and Muji, you might say that the Japanese people are doing it right when it comes to keeping home impeccable.

Cleanliness is a central part of Zen Buddhism and daily tasks like cleaning is considered a spiritual practice. For the Japanese, cleanliness is next to godliness. They also believe that dirt or clutter brings about bad energy.

With that said, you might be curious how exactly the Japanese maintain their home. Here are some housekeeping tips, the Japanese way.

  1. Less is more. Stop buying and hoarding stuff you don’t need. Take inspiration from the traditional tea room. Envision a clean, simple, uncluttered space. It’s about deciding what to retain and what to release, what to show and what to store, what to tinker with and what to treasure. The Japanese will tell you to keep it minimal and remove clutter. Clean lines and clean surfaces are calming to look at and they create a soothing ambiance.
  2. Focus on what you would love to keep. You may already have a welcoming space at home, but with just a little time and attention, your home can become a sanctuary reflecting what really matters to you. Instead of going through a room and trying to figure out what you want to get rid of, decide what things you want to keep. After you’ve rounded up these items, get rid of everything else and your home will be a lovelier place to be.
  3. Skip the stacking. In the bestselling book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” organizing consultant Marie Kondo cautions against stacking. Aside from the challenge of keeping things neat in a stack, you’re also far less likely to use the things at the bottom. When it comes to things like clothing in drawers, consider rolling them or fold them standing up.

  4. Fix the broken. You broke a bowl. You’re probably going to throw it away already. The Japanese would think otherwise. There is a concept called “Kintsugi” or the Japanese way of fixing broken pottery where they piece together the shards with lacquer and powdered gold. It is meant to show resourcefulness and embracing the flaws. Fix things around that you’ve been meaning to get repaired before matters get worse, especially if it involves your safety.
  5. Recycle. Japanese believe they shouldn’t bother others by being lazy and neglecting the trash they’ve made. So they sort their rubbish in their homes before it goes to the waste management facilities.
  6. Do it, even though you don’t feel like it. Japanese people don’t necessarily love cleaning. But they do it anyway out of habit. Allot at least 15-20 mins daily to vacuum and tidy up to avoid dirt and clutter to pile up—which can be less motivating and harder to clean up.

The Japanese are champions when it comes to cleanliness. And you can adapt their ways into your own home by following the tips above. Let us know how it goes!