Japan and tidying according to Konmari 日本とコンマリ流

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So it’s 2016 and I’m back from Japan. Drinking green tea while waiting for my boyfriend to finish dinner (we’re having Japanese curry). It’s winter and cold outside, not 15 degrees and sun. But still, things are good. The Japanese trip was also good, but very intense. Since we were only there for a week and a half everyday was filled with stuff to do, friends to meet, shopping errands to run and in the midst of it acting guide for a couple of Swedish friends who were in Japan at the same time. It was fun though, and I didn’t have time to think about work – which is good – and relax is something I can do at home so all in all the trip was good.
2016年になって、日本から帰った。彼氏はディナーを作りながら、私がお茶を飲む。外は晴れと15度じゃなくて冬でマイナスど。でも、いい感じ。日本の旅行は楽しかったけど、忙しかった。一周間半しかいなかったので毎日出かけて友達に会ったり、買い物したり、スウェーデンの友達のガイディングしたりした。楽しかったけどね、しかも仕事の事を考える時間全くなかった。リラックスの方はスウェーデンでできるし。

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When going to Japan one thing we always look forward to is food. Eating food and buying ingredients to bring home. For me the Japanese kitchen is the best in to world and there are constantly new flavors to discover and also new flavors to learn to like. There are plenty of weird things that Japanese people eat that taste bitter or just strange and some things you just have to learn how to enjoy, and it really takes time but once you start liking it you are hooked. For example, getting to like green tea took a couple of weeks for me (my host family in Hokkaido during my high school trip, like many Japanese, drink cold green tea instead of water so I just had to learn), mochi took some months, and just this year (after 7 years of disliking it) I learned how to like shiso, a Japanese herb related to mint that tastes really weird. It’s often served together with sashimi for decoration (the green leaf hidden under the tuna in the picture below) but also used for flavoring on top of rice etc. I even bought seeds this time so I can grow it at home.
日本行く時食べ物がいつも楽しみ。食べるも材料を買うも。私にとって日本の料理は世界1だ。新しい味がまだ発見できてだんだん好きになってくる味が色々ある。和食では苦いは変わった味の食べ物が多くて、慣れて美味しく楽しめるまで時間がかかる。でも、やっと好きになったら大好きに成るものが多い。例えば、冷たいお茶に慣れるのは2週間とかかかって、餅は数ヶ月、でやっと今年紫蘇にはまった。家で育てるよに種も買ったし。

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I also bought loads of kitchenware. I love wooden kitchenware, it looks and feels really nice for serving food. And it’s really common in Japan so I bought a lot.
日本で食器を沢山買った。とても気に入っている木の食器は日本で人気だからいっぱい買ってしまった。

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We spent New Years Eve at the boyfriend’s house as usual, just eating typical New Years food (soba noodles and small little dishes of various kinds) and relaxing. New Years is the big family holiday in Japan so staying in the house is the standard thing to do. On the New years day we watched the first sunset of the year from the top of Mori Tower. Tokyo really is huge. And then there were the usual things to do, going to the temple (with one million other Japanese people since we chose Meiji Jingu, one of the most popular ones) and get your fortune telling for this year. However, we kind of failed and instead of the usual fortune telling strips we accidentally bought quotes from the Meiji emperor. It turned out to not be such a bad idea after all, since my quote said in short that life is full of bumps and goes up and down and one’d better be prepared. That is basically exactly what I needed to hear – thank you Meiji Emperor! My boyfriend’s quite stated that to get what you want you need to work hard, and since he work all the time I don’t know what to apply it on… Our friend Erik’s quite was something that your heart is a mirror and it should be polished. No one could figure out what that meant :D
大みそかを彼氏の実家で過ごした。蕎麦を食べてゆっくりした。元旦に森ビルから2016年の初めてのサンセットを見た。東京はでかいね… そしていつもの通り初詣に行った。今度は明治神宮に行ってすごい人が多かった。御神籤を買おとしたら失敗して明治天皇の引用句みたいなものを買ってしまった。でも、その間違いの結果はいいことになったの。私がもらった引用句のメッセージは大体、人生にいい時も大変な時もあるから準備しろ、ってことだった。丁度そういうのを聞きたかった。ありがとう、明治天皇様!彼氏がもらった引用句の意味は、ゴールをリーチするようにもっと頑張らなくちゃ。まあ、すでにいつもいつも仕事してるからもっと頑張れるのかな、と思っているけど。友達がもらった引用句の意味がなかなか理解できなかった、誰でも。”心が鏡だから、拭かなくちゃ”みたいなことだった。よく分からないな(笑)。

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Anyhow, back to real life. In Japan I bought a book called The life changing magic of tidying up, by the Japanese tidying expert Mari Kondo. She has developed the Konmari method for tidying your entire home and her book has become a huge bestseller internationally. The basic idea is that you should only surround yourself with things that make you happy, or spark happiness. You hence discard all things that don’t make you happy. This is the way to get a clutter free home which Mari Kondo claims will make your life better in so many ways. You do the process in order of category, starting with clothes and then moving on to other things such as kitchen stuff, bathroom things and so on. It sounds easy but it’s a bit tricky. Getting rid of things that don’t really make you happy but make you think “you might use some day” or “might fit if I loose 5 kilos and it did look kinda good in the shop” or “I spent so much money on this is would be a waste to throw it away” is hard. But once you get started it feels really so much better. I started with my clothes, just like the method suggests.
とにかく、日本で人生がときめく片づけの魔法の本を買った。日本人の皆んなさんがたぶん本の内容を大体分かっているからここで説明しない。一応面白いかなと思って読むことにした。読んだらだんだんコンマリ流に興味ができて、やろうとした。方法は簡単だけど、意外と難しかった。”いつか役に立つかな”や”5キロ痩せたら使えるかも”、”これ高かったから捨てるのはもったいない”などの考えが簡単に現れる。でも、やってみるとだんだんやりやすくなる。私は服から始めた。

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The method also suggests a special kind of folding for your clothes, involving standing all items up instead of stacking on top of each other. I was very sceptic towards this folding method at first, but once I started using it I realized that it felt rather natural. And as for discarding, it felt great to get rid of things that I don’t really like! And even better, the feeling when you realized that you are “ready” to part with an item, that you have made up your mind. I know that there probably are some items left that I just couldn’t get rid of and kept although I don’t know if they make me happy or not. Some items I felt I really like, but they annoy me a bit in some ways – so they make me happy and confused. Not sure what to do with those items. Anyhow, I ended up giving away 3 big bags of clothes to a used clothing store today, and one huge bag is going to be thrown away. There is also a small bag for things to sell online. I did the wardrobe yesterday and my makeup/bathroom equipment today. It feels great to get rid of things you don’t really enjoy that are actually just a burdon and most of all to know what you own and where it is.
私は本で提案される服の畳み方に対して最初結構懐疑的だった。でもやってみたら、とても自然にできて好きになった。だからコンマリ流の通り全ての服を片づけた。いらないもおを捨てるのはすごく気持ち良かった!ただ、たまに欲しいかいらないのは決められないもがあって、捨てられなかった。まあ、とにかくでっかい袋を三つ古着屋にあげて、一つのもっと巨大な袋を捨てて、一つの小さい袋は売り物。それは昨日の作業だった。今日はメイクアップのものを片づけた。いらないものを捨てて、後は持っているものはどこにあるのか分かるのは平和な状態だと気付いた。

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I know this sounds messed up, but I already feel like a happier person, although I have not done even half of the apartment yet. It might be a coincidence, but I start to believe that since we spend so much time in our home it is important that it’s a place filled only with things we like. Things we own after all, are a big part of our life, so we should choose them with care.
変だけど、すでにもっと幸せな人になったかも。偶然かもしれないんだけど、家で過ごす時間が長いから好きなものだけで大事にしないと。持っているものは人生の大切な一部だから気を使って選んだほうがいい。

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Well well, we will see, maybe my house is super messy in two weeks and I’m back to total confusion. Or maybe this changes things, just like Marie Kondo says. Maybe I get better at decision making and in general understanding what makes me happy? In any case, I feel good right now, and that must count for something?
まあ、どうなるかな。2週間後また家がめちゃくちゃになって混乱の状態に戻るかも。それか変わるかな、近藤麻理恵さんが言う通りに。意思決定すること上手になって、何が好きかを理解できるようになって来る?とにかく、現在はいい感じだからいい。

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Christmas again またクリスマス

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Christmas is kinda over, again. But we all know that the preparations is the nice part. The last days have been rather stressful, kids everywhere and food to make and the constant background stress of feeling that I actually should relax but still can’t.
クリスマスがまた終わった。準備のほうが面白いポイントだけど。クリスマスの日々が結構忙しくて、子供がいっぱいいて飯などの準備などのやることがいっぱいあった。しかも急ぎながら休みだから落ち着くべきだけどできないこと知っているでもっとストレスがたまる。

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And I think this is the first Christmas, during which I didn’t really feel much Christmas spirit. You know, that magical feeling that was super strong as a kid but slowly has faded over the years. I don’t know if it’s me getting old or if my stressed out brain is fooling me, but I rarely feel excited about stuff nowadays and Christmas wasn’t one of them either. Anyhow, some people say that the most confusing time of womens life is in the end of their 20’s so I’m just gonna hope that this indifference will go away and that whatever comes out on the other side of it is agreeable.
今年のクリスマスは初めてのクリスマス気分がまったくないのだった。子供のころにすごく強く感じた魔法のやおうなクリスマス気分が次第に毎年弱くなったけど今年のはただ無し。年なのかストレスのせいだか分からないけど最近ほとんどわくわくすることがほとんどない。クリスマスもそう。女の人生の中一番混乱する時は20代後半だとよく言われるからこの冷淡や不熱心が消えるまで待つしかないかなあ。消えたら出た自分がいい人だといいんだけど。

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I’m going to Japan tomorrow, which I really hope will be as good as it used to be. This time we only have around 9 days there, and I fear I might stress around trying to meet as many people as possible and do as much stuff as possible. At least the food is good there and I will try to enjoy all of it as much as I can. Think mindfulness. I think the last days of candy and heavy food gluttony hasn’t been too good for my stomach or my brain to be honest. At the moment I feel like just going vegan for the next year. Maybe that should be my New Year’s resolution? As if it would make things better…
明日日本に行く。昔ほど楽しくなるといいんだけど。今回9日間しかいないからできるだけ友達に会ったり、ものを見たりしようんだろう。ストレスがまたたまるかなあ。せめて食べ物が美味しくて超楽しみ。ちゃんと楽しめるように頑張りたい。マインドフルネス精一杯!たぶんこのクリスマスに食べた重い食べ物やお菓子などが体も頭もよくないと正直に思う。来年野菜だけ食べようか。何の解決にはならないんだろうけど。

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Well well, I’m off to bake gift ginger bread for my Japanese friends and to hang out with my nephews and nieces. And then soon Japan. Sorry about all the whining. I know I should be happy.
では、今からお土産のジンジャーブレッドを作らなくちゃそして姪と甥建ちと遊ばなくちゃ。そしてもうすぐ日本。文句をいっぱい書いて申し訳ない。うれしくなるはずだし。

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When the light disappears 光が消えると

DSC_9306 (1)For a couple of weeks during fall, there is this really beautiful light lingering around like it was twilight all day. And then the light disappears, and doesn’t come back for another 5 months together with spring. At least that how it works in Sweden.
秋の数週間、とても美しい夕暮れみたいな光が毎日ある。そして光が消えて、三月まで5ヶ月間変えてこない。それはスウエーデンの条件。DSC_9294There are various ways of dealing with the dark winter. Eating a lot of vitamin D, trying to work out, making cookies and decorating are things that I’m trying this year. I can’t really stop buying plants and pots for my windows…
暗さと戦う技がある。ビタミンDをいっぱい飲んだり、運動したり、クッキーを作ったり、家のデコレーションをしたりするとか。私は今年植木を買うことを辞められない。DSC_9176 DSC_9220  It’s good that Christmas is coming soon. Gingerbread, saffron bread, decoration and lights here and there really brighten things up. And it’s really lucky that winter clothes tend to be more loose fitting and that you can hide in big cardigans. The minute it turns October my body decide to gain an extra 3 or 4 kilograms of fat – same story every year.
もうすぐクリスマスでよかった。ジンジャーブレッドやサフランパん、イルミネーションなどのおかげで元気が出る。冬の服は大きくてよかった。10月になると毎年3か4キロ太るから、緩いカーディガンとか助かる。DSC_9277  This time of the year I just want to hide away from everything and well I guess hibernate. It’s a bit sad though, that half of the year in this country is spent in hiding and hibernation. Or maybe it’s sort of nice? To relax and stay low for some months?
今の時期、全てから隠れたくて冬眠に入りたい。ちょっと悲しいね、この国に住むと半年逃げたくなること。それかまたはいいことかな?数ヶ月間リラックスで落ち着くことができるって?DSC_9292
Anyhow, the other week I got myself a Chinese money plant (called Elefantöra in Swedish). They are adorable and every hipster has one. And they produce loads of little babies and are easy to look after. Mine is already growing a lot and I have around 10 little babies that will get big and thriving quite soon.
とにかく、この間ピレア ペペロミオイデスという植木を買ったの。とても可愛くて最近大人気。しかも面倒を見やすい、小さい子供をいっぱい作っている植木だから面白い。私が買った子はすでに大きくなって子供を10個ぐらい取れた。DSC_9374The only problem with getting loads of plants is that I only have two widows. Where should I put them all? I was planning on maybe putting a shelf in front of the window, so I get two window sills. But I haven’t been able to find a decent looking one that is not to wide – I don’t want it to take up too much space in the room. Any advice on solutions are welcome!
ただ一つの問題がある。植木をどこに置けばいいの?窓が2個しかなくてそろそろ入らない気がする。窓の前で棚を置こうかなと迷っていたけど、そうすると部屋が狭くなるからよくないかも。解決の相談ください!DSC_9347Anyhow, now I’m off inviting people to a little Christmas get-together in the middle of December. Those little things to look forward to mean a lot.
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