Friday, July 31, 2009

Keep Your Room in Japan Clutter-Free

We often fail to notice how much (useless) stuff we end up accumulating over the finite months that we stay in Japan. I used to be an exchange student for one year in Osaka, and I am still repelled by the fact that I had collected so much junk during the time. Most of the stuff was useless anyway.

So when it's finally time to leave Japan, reality hits us straight in the face. The dresser is bulging with UNIQLOthes, and the oshi-ire cluttered with books, DVDs, video games, miniature fountains, Buddha statues, toys, a takoyaki cooker, and a replica of Miyamoto Musashi's wooden sword. Are you really going to take everything with you?

You can, if you can afford to pay tens of thousands of ¥en to ship them back to your country. But do you really need to have all that stuff from Japan? I can't argue with you if you're a diehard collector of limited-edition Gundam figures, in which case you probably shouldn't be reading this post. But I learned that less is better.

I used to tuck away all my papers and kanji tests into a thick file—the f****r probably weighed 2 kg in the end. I also thought it nice to preserve my Japanese textbooks for memories' sake, and in case I would read them in the future. But when I decided to move out from the gaijin house, all chaos broke out. It was like a second big bang. Most of my belongings became mere obstacles. I was overwhelmed by the garbage monster.

And the longer you keep your junk collection the harder it gets to let go of it. So I'd advise to make it a habit to eliminate all useless things in your room on sight. Don't waste any time thinking whether or not to dispose of that perfume case or Gucci paper bag. It's all garbage. You won't miss it.

The philosophy of clutter-free life applies to short-term travelling as well. When I went to Ehime two weeks ago, I only took with me a small shoulder bag containing the bare necessities: a T-shirt, a fresh pair of socks, underwear, a plastic bag where I'd keep used clothes, a digital camera, my journal, and one book. It felt extremely good to be free of encumbering suitcases.

So I've recently made a commitment not to collect junk anymore. The only items that I'm allowing myself to hoard are books. I know it's dangerous, but collecting books is a dear hobby of mine, and I will courageously accept the final price of moving my library to another country. ('s portable ebook reader Kindle is a compelling concept nonetheless.)

Clutter-free life is liberating! Try it.


liath said...

Well, this is some good advice. I'm a complete book hoarder...and I agree with you, they're about the only thing I'll gladly pay the shipping cost for when I move to and from Japan.

Eric said...

Let us say nay to ebooks and Kindles!

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