You might already know Japanese organizing guru Marie Kondo’s mantra: Toss anything that doesn’t “spark joy.” But did you know she cleans while wearing white, hates pants and talks to her house?
Charming quirks like those have helped Kondo, author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” develop a cult-like following of declutterers who post on Instagram using the hashtag #tidyingup.
Want some more tidbits to drop next time you’re having lunch with a friend who’s enamored with Kondo? Here are 11 fascinating facts about Japan’s darling of decluttering.
1. She Fell in Love With Organizing as a Kid.
“I got very interested in tidying and organizing things when I was 5,” Kondo wrote in an online “Ask Me Anything” discussion on Reddit.
A middle child who often had to entertain herself, Kondo pored over organizing, decorating and home economics tips in her mom’s magazines. Then she invented games like the “power saving game,” which involved unplugging appliances and putting water-filled plastic bottles in the toilet tank to save money, according to her book.
2. “The Art of Discarding” Changed Her Life.
Kondo wrote that when was 15, she picked up the classic Japanese organizing book by Nagisa Tatsumi. She read the book on the train on her way home from school and got so engrossed that she almost missed her stop. When she arrived home, she went to her room and discarded eight garbage bags full of stuff.
3. Her Organizing System Calls for Keeping Only Those Items That “Spark Joy.”
That’s a translation of the Japanese word tokimeku, which means “flutter, palpitate, throb.” She insists that you must touch an item to see whether it sparks joy.
“I touch everything,” she told a reporter for The New Yorker, while caressing dresses at clothing and home retailer Anthropologie.
She wasn’t touching any pants, though. Kondo “rarely wears pants because several years ago they stopped bringing her joy,” according to the article.
4. She Can Make Even an Underwear Drawer Look Pretty.
Does your underwear drawer look like a tornado hit it? Not Marie Kondo’s. Check out this YouTube video, “Marie Kondo Folds a Perfect Underwear Drawer.”
5. She Doesn’t Want You to Ditch the Cat Litter Box, Tape Dispenser or Blender.
Fans have asked: What about stuff that’s useful but doesn’t exactly make your heart flutter (or palpitate or throb)?
“Those things are helping you every single day. So you should appreciate how they are contributing to your life,” she wrote on Reddit. “Change the relationship with those items, by appreciating their contributions to your life.”
6. She Loves Shinto Shrines.
For five years, Kondo had a part-time job working at a Shinto shrine, according to her book. Shinto is the main religion in Japan, and Shinto shrines house lucky objects.
Kondo recommends making the top shelf of your bookcase into your own mini-shrine to display your personal sacred objects. One of Kondo’s clients, for example, had charms, a mini-Buddha, a mini-Virgin Mary and crystals. Setting up your own altar will help you make your home into a “sacred space, a power spot filled with pure energy,” she wrote in her book.
7. She’s a House Whisperer.
When Kondo visits the home of a client, she performs a two-minute ritual in which she introduces herself to the home—giving her name, address and occupation—and then asks the home to help her create a better space for the family who lives there. In her book, she recommends saying, “Hello! I’m home!” to your house when you enter the door.
8. A Baby Will Test Her Tidiness.
Kondo’s list of organizing categories doesn’t include toys. That’s about to change: Kondo is pregnant with her first child, the New Yorker reported. So, she’ll soon be wranglingdiapers, pacifiers and tiny booties. But she has observed that American kids have a lot more toys than their Japanese counterparts, so maybe it won’t be so bad.
For tips on organizing kids’ toys, visit blog.sparefoot.com/7001-tips-for-storing-kids-toys.
9. She’s a Fan of Fresh Air.
“The first thing I do in the morning is I open the windows and I breathe the air, I ventilate my body, the old air and the new air,” Kondo told Fast Company magazine.
10. She Always Wears White to Work.
Kondo has been called an “angel,” a “goddess” and a “snowflake.” Could that mean her branding is working? She always wears white to work because it’s associated with cleanliness and tidiness, she told the New Yorker.
“It is part of my brand,” she told the magazine. “[It’s] my image color. It is easy to recognize me.”
11. She Clears Mental Clutter With Meditation.
“I cross my legs and go into zazen [meditation]. I keep it as a habit,” Kondo told Fast Company. “It’s not just when I feel down—I keep it as a habit to keep my mind calm.”