Spring cleanup - it can be hard to part with some things

TOKYO —

With the arrival of spring, thoughts turn to spring cleanup.

As we ponder the prospects of a much-needed spring cleanup, it might be reassuring to know that we are not alone in our efforts to rid our surroundings of clutter.

The weekly “be between” column in the Asahi Shimbun’s Saturday B section (March 30) asked participants in its online survey, “Katazuke wa nigate desu ka?” (Is it hard for you to put things in order?)

Out of 2,937 valid responses, 69% of respondents admitted that it was, with 24% agreeing unequivocally and another 45% saying that it was, at least to some degree. And while 26% said they had some confidence in their ability to bring order to chaos, only 5% claimed it was their “toku-i” (specialty).

The biggest factor in the negative replies was simply that people couldn’t force themselves to throw things away—so cited by 1,153 respondents. Next was the 574 who gave laziness as the reason, and 454 who said they had too many possessions. Other reasons included, “don’t know how to organize things” (427); “don’t have enough storage space” (397); “can’t find the time for cleaning up” (272); “clutter doesn’t bother me” (240); “I just forget to clean up” (112); and “just thinking about dealing with the mess is enough to boggle my mind” (80).

When the participants were asked to name two items from a list of articles they found most difficult to part with, apparel and accessories came out on top, so cited by 1,100 respondents. That was followed by office supplies and related items (named by 925); books and compact discs (704); newspapers and magazines (388); things in the refrigerator (197); things in the “getabako” (shoe closet in the alcove) (121); trash and the task of separating various items into combustibles, etc (111); and things they carry around in their wallet (56).

Among those who said making things neater was their specialty, the most common reply, given by 437 people, was that it made them “feel good” to put things in order. Another 432 said they made it a point to put things in their proper place right after using them. Other replies included deciding where things will be put (344); take pleasure in cleaning up and putting things in order (206); good at getting rid of things (187) and knowing the right techniques for getting organized (151).

“I can understand the feelings of people who live in ‘gomi yashiki’ (houses filled with, and in some cases surrounded by, clutter),” wrote a Tokushima man in his 70s. “If not wasting things is a virtue, then it stands to reason that not throwing things away is a virtue as well.”

But a 49-year-old woman in Kyoto remarked, “Objects also have a lifespan, and we should treat them with importance. When you recognize that importance, then cleaning things up becomes an ingrained habit.”

In a sidebar, Mayumi Takahara, director of the Japan Life Organizer Association is quoted as saying that it’s natural for people to fear uncomfortable over losing their own possessions.

“The more we think that we must throw things away, the more our minds seem to search for reasons not to do it, she says, adding, “When it gets to the point that the mess starts to interfere with daily living, then cleaning up becomes a means of reducing stress.

“So at whatever level the inhabitants of a home aren’t made to feel stress, that home can be regarded as being ‘organized.’”

  • 0

    kimuzukashiiiii

    What about the option of "I live in a box in the city" ... thats what I would tick.

    Seriously though. I don't think of myself as materialistic, I don't buy a lot of stuff, and If I lived in a decent sized family home with good storage space, then I think I would have a very very clean house.... maybe Ill move to the country.

    But whatever. Im not spring cleaning - It seems like just yesterday I was doing Oosouji...

  • 4

    Yubaru

    With the arrival of spring, thoughts turn to spring cleanup.

    Actually for all the years I have been living here I have YET to hear any Japanese person talk about "spring cleaning", which is more of a foreign than Japanese thing.

    Japanese traditionally do their major cleaning at the end of the calendar year to usher in the new year. And the survey or discussion about throwing stuff away I have seen at the end of the year and not related to spring.

  • -1

    greencardfan

    "Geta-bako" - shoe closet in the genkan (hall or entrance way) surely?

  • -1

    Cos

    Actually for all the years I have been living here I have YET to hear any Japanese person talk about "spring cleaning", which is more of a foreign than Japanese thing.

    Every last week of December, it is everywhere. And for businesses, end of fiscal year, movinf season , it's end of March and every year I have been an employee, I've had to do it. Then, this year, my mansion is a bit in advance on pipe-cleaning, mosquito screens changing, cleaning away the gokiburi before they arrive, it's this month usually (we had leaking pipes in February so we're done, hurrah !). Only in Kansai ?

  • -1

    Cos

    things in the refrigerator

    Never had any problem. It always seems empty.

  • -1

    Serrano

    "Katazuke wa nigate desuka?"

    Ha ha, in my case, it's impossible. I've given up trying to bring order to the chaos that is my place.

  • 0

    rydangel

    i'm spring cleaning right now. after being "downsized" i moved back home. most of my stuff from my old house is in boxes. i decided to go through them 3 days ago. i've only manage to throw away i bag of junk. i keep thinking i'll need this when i move out again. or this is still usable. case in point, i got a shoe box full of power cords i can't get rid of. what if lose a cord? i might be able to use one that is in my shoe box. now i got boxes open all over the garage. now i just ignore the boxes whenever i go in there. yeah right, i stopped going in there. 8p organizing experts say if you don't use something for more than 6 months, you don't need it. i say i may not need it i just want it.

  • 0

    It"S ME

    GW is great for spring-cleaning.

    Said I do throw stuff out in batches multiple times a year, if it hasn't used in x-time it goes. Books go to book-off, etc.

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