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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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?