Japanese Culture and Traditions: Tidy Up to Spark Joy!


The scent of the Sun

I was so surprised when learning that it is prohibited to hang the laundry outside in some places overseas. We, Japanese people really like to hang the laundry under the sun light. Japanese climate of high humidity is said to be the main reason of it. Recently, more washing machines come to have a drying function. Even so, most Japanese people would still prefer hanging the laundry outside, saying they like to smell the scent of the sun. I completely agree. The scent of towels and bed linen hung outside reminds me of younger days in bright summer. However, there’s one thing I can’t abide about washing. It’s folding the laundry. What is the point of it all? We have to unfold clothes to put them on. It seems irrational, meaningless, and a waste of time.

To fold or not to fold

My above statement may sound extreme. It’s like stopping eating because we get hungry again anyway. I know, but I can’t help feeling empty when putting on socks that folded the day before. I’ve found on the Internet many people who have the same worries. Some people proudly explain their time-saving techniques of folding. Some other people seem to get desperate and just stop folding. Indeed, I was encouraged by knowing I’m not alone, but what I had really wanted is a rational reason to convince myself to fold the laundry.

KonMari method

Have you ever heard of KonMari Method? Marie Kondo is a pro organizer. Her Netflix show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” exploded in popularity. Many Japanese business books have analyzed why she gained such a great reputation overseas, and what makes her different from other organizers. What impressed me most is an analysis that she focuses on not techniques but psychological effectiveness of tidying up. According to her concept, folding the laundry is worth because we can make a fresh start with clothes neatly folded.

Our factory after the year-end clean up. It's completely cleaned and well-organized.

On the last working day of a year, we spend most of the time to tidy up work place. It’s a Japanese tradition to welcome the god of the incoming year, which results in making us start working better and freshly in the following year. Of course, our factory was completely cleaned up on the last working day, and we’re ready to make this year a great one!

Photo Credit: https://organizing-geneva.com/what-does-marie-kondos-netflix-show-really-tell-us-3-2/

Shungo Ijima

He is travelling around the world. His passion is to explain Japan to the world, from the unique viewpoint accumulated through his career: overseas posting, MBA holder, former official of the Ministry of Finance.