Marie Kondo and a Cult of Tidying Up

February 26, 2015 - storage organizer


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Tokyo

Marie Kondo,

Japan’s tidier-in-chief, sits ramrod-straight, examination a backstage video guard in a Tokyo radio studio. Ever given strangers on a travel began noticing her as a author of the tellurian best seller, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” she has felt mortified about her posture. A home-organizing guru, she has decided, should “be correct all a time.”

The 30-year-old author, whose book has sole 2 million copies world-wide, has usually returned from a feat path in a U.S., where a book has hold a hold on best seller lists given a recover in October. On this Saturday afternoon, a hosts of a renouned Japanese accumulation uncover are examination footage from Ms. Kondo’s trip. One stage shows her station in a bedroom of a Boston teen whose belongings—clothes, wiring and pressed animals—fill a closet. At a author’s direction, a lady contingency lift them all out, collect adult any intent and poise Ms. Kondo’s signature question: Does it tokimeku—does it hint joy?

The video ends. Ms. Kondo checks her hair with a flower-motif compress mirror, and walks onstage.

“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” a visionary declaration on vouchsafing go of a things we don’t need, has turn a tellurian edition phenomenon. It’s a kind of book that publishers dream of, one that arrives ideally timed to both lead and simulate a change in a zeitgeist. Ms. Kondo’s book has prisoner a imaginations of readers around a universe during a impulse when many people seem to have reached a tipping indicate of confusion in their lives. It coincides with a recuperating economy, an boost in donations of wardrobe and domicile products to gift and a trend toward downsizing as U.S. race enlargement shifts from a suburbs to city centers in many areas.

Read an Excerpt From Marie Kondo’s ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’

“Tidying Up” has fast grown a cultlike following. Fans share photos of their underwear drawers. They’ve started clubs and Facebook groups. And they use a author’s name as a noun that can impute possibly to cleansing or prudent folding: “Waiting for kettle to boil … So we Kondoed my recipe books,”

Elaine Colliar,

a family-finance columnist for Scotland’s Sunday Mail, admitted in a new Facebook post, with a imitation to uncover her handiwork.

More decluttering books are on a way. In March, Random House impress Spiegel Grau is edition “Stuffocation,” by

James Wallman.

The book argues that a confusion in a homes is correlated to stress, and that to lead happier lives, we should spend a income on practice rather than things. Also, Random House impress Ballantine Books recently acquired “New Order,” an illustrated decluttering beam by

Fay Wolf,

scheduled for open 2016. Ms. Kondo’s U.S. publisher says it has seen an liquid of proposals on a topic.

The recognition of “Tidying Up” dovetails with an enlargement of a whole self-help difficulty to embody a younger, hipper, mindfulness-practicing assembly of women and men. “It’s a Ted Talk audience,” says

Jessica Sindler,

a editor who acquired “Stuffocation” during Spiegel Grau. “It’s about changing your life and self-improvement though it’s arrange of a happier, smarter approach.”

A Publishers Weekly research of Nielsen BookScan information showed that a self-help difficulty had a fastest enlargement in print-book section sales among adult segments in 2014, posting a benefit of 15% over a prior year.

“Tidying Up” will shortly be accessible in some-more than 30 countries, including France, where it was expelled this week. In Japan, where it was initial published in 2011, Ms. Kondo now has a sum of 4 books in print—and a CD of exemplary song to neat by (including dual Chopin waltzes, a Bach concerto and Ravel’s “Jeux d’eau.”) In a U.S., “Tidying Up” has left by 11 imitation runs given October, with 338,000 copies now in print. Her U.S. publisher, Ten Speed Press, an impress of a Crown Publishing Group during Penguin Random House, is now deliberation how and when to recover a rest of her titles.

Ms. Kondo’s book is tiny and spare. Aaron Wehner, publisher of Ten Speed Press, pronounced his organisation wanted a cover that evoked a suggestion of a book’s message. They chose “a cover that’s still though still strong”—a watercolor skyscape with red type, pronounced Aaron Wehner, Ten Speed’s publisher.

The English interpretation preserves a quirkiness of her voice, that is by turns unrelenting and enchanted, like a angel godmother for socks.


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“Never, ever round adult your socks,” she writes. “They take a heartless violence in their daily work… The time they spend in your drawer is their usually possibility to rest.”

“I consider they published it brilliantly,” pronounced

Susan Bolotin,

publisher during Workman Publishing, that specializes in self-help books (and has no tie to a Kondo book). “There’s a unreal peculiarity to it,” she said. “It’s a book that promises something that is roughly over imagination. It’s magic.”

The judgment of decluttering has been gaining steam for some-more than a decade.

Peter Walsh

—an classification consultant who was initial featured on TLC’s existence show, “Clean Sweep,” in 2003—wrote dual best-selling books on a theme in 2007 and 2008. More existence shows about hoarding followed, including Mr. Walsh’s “Extreme Clutter,” that aired for dual seasons on a


Oprah Winfrey

Network. His latest book, “Lose a Clutter, Lose a Weight: The Six-Week Total-Life Slim Down,” was expelled this week.

Read an Excerpt from ‘Stuffocation’

Ms. Kondo’s book arrived in a U.S. as donations of garments and domicile equipment were growing. Across a U.S., Goodwill Industries International saw 4% some-more in-kind donations in 2014 than a prior year. In January,the classification saw 8% some-more drop-offs compared with a same month in 2014.

In a larger New York area, Goodwill processed some-more than 112 million pounds of in-kind donations final year—a 22% boost over a prior year.

Michael Meyer,

clamp boss of selling and donated-goods sell for Goodwill Industries International, attributed partial of a boost to a mercantile recovery, as consumers reinstate castoffs with new purchases.

Ms. Kondo offers a truth for people struggling with vouchsafing all that things go.

She was lifted in Tokyo, and from a immature age was preoccupied with organizing. As a child, she review home and lifestyle magazines and spotless her siblings’ bedrooms. In category school, she was a reserved category organizer. She launched a home-organizing consulting business during age 19, and detected that many of her clients had a tough time determining what to keep and what not to.

She experimented with opposite keep-or-throw criteria. Then one day, she asked a client: “Does this hint joy?”

“She was means to let go of it smoothly,” Ms. Kondo recalls in an talk backstage, after a TV show. “Since then, I’ve been regulating a words.”

Ms. Kondo is married and has no children. In contrariety to her bare-it-all fans, she is rhythmical about her private life. Her publicist says she has never invited a contributor into her home. She wrote a initial book during a ask of clients on her watchful list. Her process is extreme: Purging contingency be finished all in one go. No procrastinating. No “maybe” pile.

“Keep usually a things that pronounce to your heart. Then take a thrust and drop all a rest,” she advises. “When we put your residence in order, we put your affairs and your past in order, too. As a result, we can see utterly clearly what we need in life and what we don’t.”

One of her clients, she notes, even jettisoned her husband.

Fans contend her recommendation frees them from a shame that mostly comes with dispatch an intent given by a desired one. She advises readers to appreciate their garments for their service—or for training them that pinkish isn’t their color—before vouchsafing them go.

In a pointy depart from home-organization convention, she rejects all organizational products and storage bins. “A butt trap lies within a tenure ‘storage,’” she writes. “I can overtly announce that storage methods do not solve a problem of how to get absolved of clutter. In a end, they are usually a extraneous answer.”

“Tidying Up” had sole some-more than a million copies in Japan when Ten Speed Press acquired a North and South American English rights. But it wasn’t apparent during a opening that a book by a Japanese home-organizing consultant would interpret opposite cultures. Another plea was that a author didn’t pronounce English, so media interviews would be limited.


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Berkeley, Calif.-based Ten Speed Press systematic adult an initial imitation run of 30,000—a series that Mr. Wehner disturbed was too big. “It felt like, Wow, we’re copy a small prolonged on this,” he said.

Before a book’s U.S. release, a publisher did a far-reaching mailing of pre-publication galleys to eccentric booksellers and bloggers. Booksellers asked for even some-more copies—an early denote that it was touching a nerve.

After a launch, a book was showered with good press, and word-of-mouth grew.

Ryan Simons, a 34-year-old freelance writer, privileged out some-more than a dozen bags of things in Jan from a Brooklyn unit he shares with his mother and dual roommates, and didn’t stop there.

“Kondoed a song on my phone,” he wrote in a Twitter post, with an picture of his pared-down playlist.

Megan Bryant,

36, a children’s book author in Winston-Salem, N.C., desired a book so most she started a Facebook organisation to share tips and swell reports with her friends. “I could not put it down,” she said. “It’s a humorous thing to be so vehement about training to neat and classify and make clarity of your space.… we felt like we had one epiphany after another, each time we incited a page.”


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Ms. Kondo’s U.S. publisher is now reckoning out edition skeleton for her other 3 titles. The second, called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up 2,” is a master category for organizing, including specific superintendence for kitchens, closets and bathrooms, with a few line-drawings. The third, literally translated as “Experience a Pulsing Magic of Cleaning Up Every Day,” offers full-color photos of her signature folding method, and orderly drawers and other spaces. The fourth is an illustrated beam with recommendation on troublesome topics such as work-related papers.

On her initial outing to a U.S. in January, Ms. Kondo resolved that Americans faced radically a same tidying hurdles as in Japan, with a difference of children’s toys, by that Americans seemed quite overwhelmed.

Ms. Kondo is no longer usurpation new clients for personal consultations. Instead, she is training veteran tidying consultants in her method, and hopes to trade this training module to a U.S. and elsewhere.

“I would like to neat adult everywhere on a planet,” she says.

Write to Jennifer Maloney during jennifer.maloney@wsj.com and Megumi Fujikawa during megumi.fujikawa@wsj.com

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