What non-essential item should everyone possess?

Japanese minimalism - why is less often more?

Japanese minimalism is not a trend - it is more an attitude to life. More and more people are fleeing consumption and are only limited to the bare essentials for life. This renunciation does not mean a disadvantage in the life of the minimalists, on the contrary.

The underlying Zen Buddhism teaches that it is desirable to accumulate little or no possessions. What exactly Japanese minimalism is all about, whether you can become (more) minimalistic by clearing out your own apartment and whether you can fill an emptiness with a new emptiness, we have discussed in more detail in our blog!

What exactly is this (Japanese) minimalism?

For many, living minimalistically means a balancing act between a colorful, consumer-oriented and noisy world in 2018 and a teaching that has been around for more than 1500 years. But do you actually have to choose which side to choose? Or can you live a minimalist life, for example, but at the same time own a dishwasher or a car, for example?

The brief explanation:

Minimalism is not about reduction at any price - rather, a thoughtful appreciation for everything and everyone should move into the focus of the followers - and thereby give their own life more meaning. In everyday life, this means, viewed through the eyes of people who are used to consumption, living in a rather meager apartment without comfort. For those who support this approach to life, turning away from consumption means liberation.

How do you live minimalist?

In a consumer-oriented world, more possessions are accumulated than are really needed. Less is more? Not for us consumer junkies. Here the Japanese approach is reversed, so that emptiness is filled and not created. “Emptiness”, that is, the omission of things, does not have a negative connotation in Japanese. Rather, the few possessions are shown to their best advantage and are particularly valued.

Those who live according to Japanese Zen Buddhism will want to fill their life with a few things, who renounce consumption in the future, and even turn away from it to the extent that (for example according to the Konmari method) they also use existing things in their own Life separates.

The Konmari Method

The Konmari method of the Japanese bestselling author Mari Kondo gives "minimalism newbies" a not so extreme solution to get rid of superfluous ballast. In a nutshell, clearing out and mucking out works in the following way: Mucking out is not done by room, but by category.

If you tidy up like this, you automatically go through all the rooms and pick up each item once. Everything comes in a big pile and is then "emotionally examined" bit by bit: Does this object make me happy, does it bring back fond memories or do I really still need it? If not - away with it! At the end of the day, all objects get a permanent place in the apartment!

Mari Kondo has triggered a veritable wave of cleanup, which in turn leaves plenty of room for the question: What do I really need to live? And which items are simply superfluous in the end?

An example:

There are 7 days a week - so what do I need 20 pairs of socks for? A question that is certainly not entirely unfounded and that can be asked in a similar form for all everyday objects: Does it always have to be more than is really needed? And anyway: What triggers our desire for consumer goods?

Of course, this does not only apply to the little things - if you really look at every part in the apartment and ask yourself whether it is really necessary, you can not only part with a lot of dust collectors or old clothes: the entire facility can be examined carefully.

That means nothing else than that the question is entirely allowed as to whether every stool, every wall cupboard or every sofa cushion fills or overwhelms the apartment. Your own sense of style also plays a major role:

Anyone who pursues a minimalist furniture concept can now furnish a minimalist interior without any major problems. Particularly simple furniture is then in demand, furniture with clear lines. But in addition to the design, they should also have a real use. The furnishings should bring joy and if they weren't there, something would be missing in the apartment.

At the same time, this also means that small decorative hall tables with grandma’s vase (e.g.) are a thing of the past.

To many people this may sound totally strange. But why do we buy so much when we don't need it?

Advertising takes advantage of us shamelessly

People have always bought for one single motivation: the desire for improvement. But unlike in Buddhist teaching, our improvement is based on the accumulation, not the omission of possessions. The western drive is based on passion for something or fear of something. So if I buy (any item) I feel better. Or if I don't buy it, I'm worried that it will put me at a disadvantage.

In any case, advertisers have always understood how to motivate people to buy their products or services in this way. This then ultimately leads to the fact that we accumulate more and more possessions, since the amount of possessions is equated with prosperity, well-being or just an improvement.

Minimalism - how do I start?

Many Japanese people who have recently devoted themselves to teaching report sudden incidents in their lives - it suddenly became "too much" for various reasons. The return to what is necessary and important is the lived consequence. Of course, minimalists also need products and services to live, and under no circumstances should the Japanese starve themselves to death in order to fully live the teaching.

But any question before buying / hiring a service can be a first step. Do I really still need a suit, does it have to be a picture on the wall, do I really need all these "friends" on social media?

Ultimately, minimalism does not only run through one's own property, but through all areas of life: consumption is drastically reduced, and the positive result is an appreciation of what is available and of oneself. The lack of objects reveals its appreciation.

What minimalism furniture is there?

Well, that depends a little on the living situation. It is difficult to imagine that an avowed minimalist would prefer a sweeping chandelier to a simple ceiling lamp (if at all!).

In relation to your own furniture, however, this means above all that things should have a function, that they have to fulfill a purpose. Anyone who then pays attention to a simple design, be it of Japanese or Scandinavian origin, should at least have taken the first step in the right direction from our consumer-dominated world, since the furniture itself is reduced to the bare essentials and to flourishes, ornaments or rare Refrain from materials.

Trend minimalism apartment - this is how you furnish yourself new and discreet

Sure, a family with 4 children has different demands on their living space than a single - but both can clear out their living space (see Konmari method) and furnish themselves with a simple, functional design.

We have listed once how a “new minimalist” can get off to a good start and run through this once for the living room, dining room and bedroom:

The living room

The center of the apartment should above all be functional, yet elegant. The reduction to the essentials leaves room for breathing and life in this room.


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The dining room

This is where the whole family comes together, and this is where we spend time together. Let's get back time-space!


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The bedroom

Often as a collection point for all items that don't fit elsewhere, the bedroom is becoming less and less a place to relax. A lot of free space and space are particularly important here in order not to have the feeling of sleeping in a storage room.


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The first step has been taken - but how do I prevent the routine from creeping back in?

Here too, many experts have tips and tricks ready. Those who live minimalistically are allowed to own things and also buy things (or swap or borrow them, depending on the "characteristics" of what they have lived). For many people there is the challenge of not being allowed to own more than 100 items, but here the experts argue about whether you have to count a pair of socks as one or two things. But well, that leads a little too far at this point.

Back to modern minimalism: If you are planning a purchase, you must always ask yourself in advance whether it is really necessary or whether an alternative product also works: Does it have to be the expensive coffee capsule machine? Isn't a normal filter machine enough or even a return to the good old hand filter?

In the case of purchases that are one-off (as a rule, even non-minimalists rarely have more than one coffee machine at home) there is usually no equivalent item that can then be abolished.

But if you buy a new cookbook, for example, you can consider giving away an old book for it. (By the way, nobody is forced to throw things away: swap things with others, donate things to social institutions or sell your old belongings on the Internet!)

Do you feel ready?

How do you say appropriately so beautiful? Even the longest journey begins with the first step. If you want to clear out your life, you will find many books and ideas on the Internet. Anyone who feels emptiness despite a full apartment can take the first step on the long journey. Our tip: start right away! Don't put it on the back burner and get some inspiration.

Mari Kondo's book “Magic Cleaning” can be bought second-hand or, even better, borrowed from your city's library. Because you don't want to escape consumption by buying something new first, do you? 🙂

CategoriesLifestyleTagsJapan, minimalism, living