minimalism japan

Minimalism in Japan: Lessons to be Learnt

Konnichiwa to all our readers from the land of the rising sun. The concept of minimalism might not have surfaced from Japan, but the Japanese have been practicing it well before the term was coined and it is evident that we can learn a thing or two from their culture about living sustainably.

Japan as we know it, has introduced some of the most valuable inventions, habits, and rituals to the world. You might love japan for their sushi and ramen, samurai and ninjas, onsen hot springs, or their manga and anime literature. How do they perfect the way of producing these amazing works of art so casually? It’s got to be something to do with their way of life, I mean come on… Have you seen those aesthetically pleasing minimalistic homes, greeted with a zen garden at the front porch? I can vouch for their way of life to be one of the finest of all cultures after seeing many YouTube videos, certainly more than I’d like to admit.

minimalism japan
Black cooking pot in the middle of a room. Photo by Evgeny Tchebotarev from Pexels

A designated place

In Japan, everything has its own place and it stays there forever. Well, forever is subjective but you get my point. Books on the shelf, tools in the drawer, cash in the purse, and trash in the bin. Nothing ever goes missing and you won’t have to spend the whole Saturday searching for your TV’s warranty certificate which you threw away after believing the words of the trainee salesman hoping it would last at least 5 years with zero bugs. It helps when you clearly know where your stuff is. You could save so much time. This ritual takes practice over time though. You have to designate places for everything in the house and should make sure that they stay there after being used.

Birds of the same feather

Pro-tip: When you’re organizing your home, make sure to place complementary items together. For example, your workout sneakers and the relevant accessories can go together (I know it’s been collecting dust in the corner after a month you decided to list out your new year resolutions, but still…) or books and stationery could be grouped together. You’ve got the total freedom to decide on those, just make sure everything’s within reach so you know where to find them in the house. This is yet another important lesson on minimalism from Japan.

minimalism japan
Simple Japanese lifestyle. Photo by Roméo A. on Unsplash

Negative spaces

Japanese love negative spaces. When you take a peek inside their traditional tatami homes, you see a lot of emptiness or void of space all around the house. Living rooms with just a table and few pillows to sit on make you question the use of the pile of clutter you’ve been living around since the beginning of time. Having empty spaces looks tidy and pleasing on the eye and provides you the comfort of moving around your house freely. It’s picture-perfect minimalism on display which reflects in their daily routine of work.

Eat right. Eat less.

Topping lists are a thing for the Japanese. They have the highest life expectancy at birth according to the UNDP which tells us a thing or two about the quality of things they stuff in their mouths. If you visit Japan, you’d notice that it’s quite difficult to spot an obese local may it be in the cities or in the countryside. The main reason behind this is the quality and the quantity of food they take in. Many dishes are prepared with natural and organic ingredients which helps in cleansing your insides and boosting your immunity giving you the luxury of long life. Plus they eat quite a little when compared with westerners, only the amount needed to sustain their lives. No regular hospital visits for the Japanese to check their blood pressure and the need to gulp down a handful of pills would not even come into play.

minimalism japan
Sushi on brown wooden board. Photo by Rajesh TP from Pexels

Mend it with gold

Would a rational person throw away a broken ceramic bowl and get a new one instead? Yes, absolutely why won’t they. Well, the Japanese don’t. They mend it with gold powder and create a unique piece of tableware that would serve its purpose while reminding us of a valuable lesson in life to embrace the damages and to accept the flaws. The art of repairing pottery with gold is called Kintsugi which is literally translated to “golden joinery”. The spiritual lesson highlighted here is to see past one’s faults and flaws and to preserve the little things that bring you joy in life.

Read more: 10 Minimalist Habits to Brighten Up Your Life