By JULIE LASKY
Move over, hygge. You, too, lykke, lagom, niksen and bella figura. Another international buzzword has come to town, loaded with the promise of improving lives.
“Marie Kondo’s Kurashi at Home: How to Organize Your Space and Achieve Your Ideal Life,” is the Japanese tidying guru’s latest book and the first to dip into her native language to give a little flair to the title. (“Kurashi,” by the way, means “lifestyle.”) Building on Kondo’s famed organizational method of sorting through belongings to determine which create a frisson of delight, the book invites us to discover what sparks joy not just among our possessions but also in our environments, relationships and daily activities. “Tidying up means dealing with all the ‘things’ in your life,” she writes. “So, what do you really want to put in order?”
In a Zoom call, Kondo recently explained that the word kurashi conveys the comfort and serenity of day-to-day routines more than its English-language counterpart.
“I love the way certain Japanese words sound, and kurashi happens to be one of them,” she said, speaking through an interpreter. Readers familiar with her star-making 2010 book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” or her two Netflix series will find similar insights here, in concentrated form. The KonMari method of gathering, fondling and purging that launched a million trips to the dump is recapped on a single, airy page.
Back, too, is Kondo’s signature animism — her recommendation to look at the world from an object’s perspective, to understand how it might feel crushed or smothered in an undifferentiated heap of possessions. So is her insistence on thanking belongings for their service before disposing of them.
She admits to talking to her bathtub as she wipes it dry, saying, “It’s amazing how you’re always so clean and free of mold.” As always, she appeals to our better angels — at least the ones that shop.
This hardcover book, however, shows as well as tells. More than 100 Instagram-worthy photographs document serene room details, minimalist vignettes of sleek decorative objects, pants hanging crisply in closets (surprisingly so, given the author’s passion for folding) and the author herself, looking relaxed and radiant.
The light-drenched, blond interiors are not Kondo’s. “We were trying to give a sense of what Marie’s lifestyle looks like,” said Julie Bennett, the book’s editor. “The message is: You figure out what style works for you.” Kondo insists that to follow her technique is to cultivate sensitivity to one’s desires and needs in a way that will bring larger rewards than mere order. (That is the “life-changing” part.) The experience is personal and subdermal — objects communicate their values best when they are physically handled — with benefits like jobs and financial windfalls sometimes bubbling up unpredictably after the tidying is done. (That is the “magic” part.)
Yet with “Kurashi,” we now enter a more conventional therapeutic realm, in which Kondo sounds like a life coach from time to time. If you have not managed to get through her method, she would like to know what is blocking you. Or rather, she would like you to ask that of yourself. Writing about balancing home and work, she unleashes a battery of questions, starting with: “How much time do you spend a day on each work-related task? How much work do you get done in a week?” Sample worksheets help readers map out their day’s activities and goals so they can cut inefficient practices as ruthlessly as they do their neglected kitchen gadgets.
Lasky is a journalist with NYT©2022
The New York Times