You’re viewing a version of this story optimized for slow connections. To see the full story click here.

Marié Kondo's Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

—Celebrity Author Visits San Francisco from Japan—

Story by Cory Maryott February 18th, 2015

"The guru of Tidiness" Visits SF

Best selling author Marié Kondo (近藤麻理恵) has become nothing less of a celebrity after her books on tidying sold millions of copies in her home country of Japan. Kondo began her career as a cleaning consultant in Tokyo, after a nurturing her lifelong interest in perfecting techniques for tidying and simplifying people’s homes. When her waitlist for consultation began to constantly exceed three months, fans and hopeful clients begged for a book that would detail her cleaning strategy and help them get their homes back in order. Hence, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” (Jpn: 「人生がときめく片付けの魔法」) was born.

A major hit at home and abroad, Kondo’s book details the “KonMari” Method for tidying— relying mainly on the philosophy that one should only keep things that “spark joy” in their lives. With hopes of promoting the English translation, Marié Kondo visited Kinokuniya Book Store to give a short lecture on her method, and to sign copies of her book while meeting the KonMari fans of San Francisco.

I myself am a HUGE fan of Kondo’s book, and was very excited to hear that she would be coming to San Franisco. So with permission from Kinokuniya and Kondo’s manager, I photographed the event. Here’s the story:

KonMari fans began entering well before the event was scheduled to start
Fans and new readers were curious to flip through Kondo's books before the event
IMG_1499.jpg
The lecture had yet to start, and already fans quickly outnumbered available seats
IMG_1504.jpg
Kondo has four Japanese titles and one English translation

Kinokuniya Book Store

Kinokuniya Book Store in Japan Town, San Francisco, is a two story book store stocked full of Japanese novels, magazines and manga comics. There’s a small section of books in English, but this store serves mainly as a source for Japanese publications.

They seemed just as excited as I was about the event!
A sweet Obaa-chan brushes up on fashion trends featured in magazines straight from Japan
IMG_1485.jpg
These fans were at least 20 mins early. These seats would soon not be enough for the crowd!
"The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up"

Kondo Jumps into action

Just moments before she was introduced, I got to speak with Marié Kondo briefly on the side. I asked if she was nervous, and she said “a little bit yes!” (Of course I was nervous myself at meeting such a famous author in person!)

She then hopped before the crowd of fans and began her lecture.

IMG_1509.jpg

The KonMari Method

The turn out was at least double than expected, and fans gathered around to hear Kondo’s lecture on the basics of the KonMari Method.

The KonMari Method is both simple and incredibly profound. The principle factor in this method, is to be guided by keeping only things that spark joy in your heart. Kondo instructs that one should go through, by category, each and every item they own, asking if the article sparks joy or not. Clothes, books, mementos, and gifts alike all must each be taken in your hands and tested against this criteria. Should something fail to bring you that “spark” of joy, it is best to part with it.

IMG_1515.jpg
IMG_1531.jpg
Kinokuniya staff member Tarou helped interpret for Kondo
IMG_1538.jpg
IMG_1542.jpg

Q&A Session

A brief question and answer session followed Kondo’s lecture. She was so sweet and welcoming and had a lot of great advice to share.

“Remember, this method is not about choosing what to throw away, but rather is about deciding what to keep. Surround yourself only with the things that spark joy in your life.” —Marié Kondo

Kondo also encourages her readers to thank each item deeply for coming into his or her life. Before parting with a shirt that no longer suits you, or before donating that book you intended to read but never did, offer gratitude to it for in someway it has brought you something in your life.

IMG_1561.jpg
IMG_1570.jpg
IMG_1574.jpg
IMG_1580.jpg
IMG_1588.jpg
A huge round of applause for Kondo; next came the much awaited book signing!
IMG_1603.jpg

Book Signing & Greetings

Following the Q&A, fans lined up to greet Kondo and to have her sign copies of her books. Fans thanked Kondo deeply, and in turn Kondo thanked each fan, clasped her hands as if praying for their success and happiness, and sincerely encouraged each to do their best in their future efforts. Her kindness and sincerity was incredibly radiant, I truly could feel that what matters most to Kondo is helping people find joy in their lives from the amazing transformation that comes after tidying using her methods.

IMG_1601.jpg
IMG_1604.jpg
IMG_1606.jpg
IMG_1608.jpg
IMG_1614.jpg
IMG_1619.jpg
IMG_1632.jpg
IMG_1637.jpg
She would clasp her hands and give a small bow, wishing a lifetime of joy to each

The life-changing magic

Kondo’s book was really eye opening for me, and I found her method easy enough to apply, yet incredibly profound. Kondo points out that when we struggle to get rid of things we no longer need, it comes down to either having some attachment to the past or an anxiety about the future. Tidying our homes becomes a way to overcome these feeling and to ‘detox’ our lives.

I can think of no greater happiness in life than to be surrounded only by the things I love. How about you? All you need to do is to get rid of anything that doesn’t touch your heart. There is no simpler way to contentment. What else could this be called but “the magic of tidying”? —Marie Kondo from “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”

Getting the chance to meet Kondo was really incredible! I hope you will all give her KonMari Method a try. Be sure to get your copy of the English translation here: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

IMG_1694.jpg
Footnote: Huge thank you to Kinokuniya staff and to Marie Kondo—誠にありがとうございました! Don’t miss my next story—hit subscribe to stay in touch.
Kinokuniya Book Stores, Webster Street, San Francisco, CA, United States