What Is Danshari (断捨離)?
Simply put, Danshari (断捨離) is one of the ways of tidying up, but technically, it is rather a kind of thought that making a comfortable living space by decluttering balances your life. That may sound like minimalism or simplism.
Well, the origin of the word, Danshari (断捨離), is derived from the philosophy of yoga, cutting off (断つ), throwing away (捨てる), and letting go (離れる). So, each of these three words, “dan-sha-ri (断-捨-離),” represents: cutting off the habit of getting new items blindly, throwing away things you don't need, and letting go of attachment to material things.
By the way, the expression of "断捨離" (Danshari) is registered as a trademark by Ms. Hideko Yamashita, who wrote a best-seller book about Danshari and caused the initial craze about a decade ago.
Why Danshari Fascinated People in Japan?
After the high economic growth period, lots of Japanese people became well off enough to buy lots of new items and began to be bothered with tidying up and putting away their stuff. Why? Whether it's a house or residential complex (condos or apartments), many of you have probably been surprised at the small housing in Japan.
Especially in urban areas with large populations, living spaces are small and most places do not have a garage or a big closet. However, in such small spaces, people must store clothes and bedding for each season, or suitcases and/or leisure goods that take up room but are used only a few times a year. Households with children need more stuff for them as they grow up. Most people live busy days working, doing the chores, or raising a child/children with not a lot of time to organize belongings.
On top of those, the Japanese have a thought, "Mottainai Mindset (もったいない精神)," that people should cherish the value of each thing and use it up to the end. Also, there is another thought, "Yaoyorozu-no-kami (八百万の神): lots of deities" The idea is that a deity dwells in every single thing. Those thoughts also led people to keep things at home.
So, people who did not know what to do with the clutter were fascinated with the idea of "Danshari" which could let them have a comfortable life free from stress by getting rid of unneeded stuff. It may have been natural that the craze came.
Craze Is Back Because of Pandemic of Covid-19
The initial Danshari craze came around 2010. At the same time, the "KonMari Method" proposed by Ms. Marie Kondo, aka KonMari, made a big splash in Japan. (As you might know, it gained huge popularity in Europe and the US, too.) Such tidying up movement has been going on among some people since then, and now the craze is back on the rise again under the influence of the pandemic of Covid-19. As more people started engaging in remote work and were required not to go out, they had no choice but to spend longer time at home.
By the way, Danshsari and the Konmari Method are similar in "making a comfortable life by decluttering". It seems to me that the goal is the same but the approach is different as follows:
Danshari: Pick up things you want to let go of and get rid of them; Cut off the habit of getting new items.
Konmari Method: Pick up things you want to cherish and keep them; Get rid of the unnecessary stuff after thanking them.
Various Ways to Let Go of Your Unneeded Belongings
Don't you think it should be environmentally meaningful that the stuff you decluttered to make your place comfortable find a second life with a new owner?
There are various ways to get rid of unnecessary belongings. It is easier if you can give them to your friends or people around you directly, but that doesn't happen so often. So, here are some typical ways to discard. Check them out!
(Services listed below are examples.)
Places to Sell
Jimoty (ジモティー)[Available to sell/ give for free]
Local second-hand stores, flea markets, etc.
Things our staff has sold or bought on second-hand platforms include furniture, home appliances, household goods, clothes, shoes, bags, jewelry, baby items, toys, books, CDs/DVDs, unopened cosmetics, etc. A wide range of items can be sold and purchased.
Use In-store Recycling Services
Renet（Computers, small devices, etc.）
UNIQLO（Limited to products of UNIQLO, GU, PLST）
Major electronics and appliances stores (When buying a new product, customers can apply the recycling service to have their old one collected.）
(Japan's Home appliance recycling act requires people to dispose of waste properly to make efficient use of resources. )
【 Watch Out for Dishonest Junk Collectors! 】
You will get many hits by looking up junk collectors online. Lots of ads for collectors and dealers will be shown, and sometimes you will find flyers in your mailbox. Unfortunately, however, some of them are not nice and honest, charging extortionate fees or requiring another charge after telling you the collecting fee is free. Many Japanese people get in trouble, too. So, make sure you don't contact collectors if you don't know them well or feel sketchy.
Facility such as a children's home
Make sure to inquire with an organization/ a facility about the types of materials they accept or how to donate (bank transfer, mailing, bringing in, etc.), which is different depending on each organization. Sending your stuff without checking those things would rather bother people who work there.
Charity bazaars often held at elementary schools and kindergartens seem not to be held as they used to be because of the pandemic.
Put out for Waste Collection
Putting out unneeded stuff for waste collection in your area may be the easiest way if you find it troublesome to work on the process of selling your belongings or you don't have time for that. Household waste is broadly categorized as general garbage, recyclable garbage, and large garbage. Rules for putting out waste are different depending on the local government and area where you live. So, make sure to stick to the rules. Lots of local governments have an English version of guidelines and rules on each of their website. Research with the words, "XX区 ごみ 英語 (XX district, garbage, English)".
You Don’t Want to Throw Away Your Stuff Yet? Try This.
Use the Self-service Storage or Full-service Storage
Though it costs you, some services offer you storage outside of your home or store your belongings if you send them. Use these services and make some room at your place. One interesting way of using these services is like this: Set a period, such as six months, a year, etc., and let go of them, if you really think you don't need them anymore after the period you set.
Tips to Avoid Having Lots of Belongings
As long as you have your belongings, space for them is needed. To make your place tidy, another key way is to keep yourself away from getting new stuff.
For your reference, these are what I do:
Borrow free books at public libraries. I borrow five to six children's books for my kid on a regular basis. Because the prices of most children's books range from JPY 1,000 to 1,500 per copy, it is so great that my kid can read many books for free!
(Registration is required before you borrow books. You will need your ID card, such as a driver's license or alien registration card.)
Use Rental Services
It might be because vacations and storage spaces are not enough in Japan, rental services for needed items are available at many leisure attractions. Some places offer tools, ingredients, and everything you need for barbecuing. So, you don't have to bring anything.
Seaside Activities: Bathing at beach, Scuba diving, Snorkeling, etc.
Mountain and Inland Activities: Fishing, Skiing, Snowboarding, etc.
Others: Fishing, Barbecuing, Cycling, etc. Home electric appliances are also available for rent at some places.
(Pre-booking might be required. Check it in advance.)
Check Reviews Before Buy
When I buy something online, I often use EC sites that show reviews. Many stuff used to end up being unused since they were not as good as expected or needed so much. So, now I try to check reviews as much as possible before buying things online in order not to repeat the same mistake. It has become essential for me, especially when I buy large products that include furniture and electric appliances, or consumables in bulk.
Try Not to Stock Up
What I keep in mind is not to stock up too much. Food and daily necessities tend to be hoarded for your future need, but if you cannot keep them well organized, you are more likely to buy extra items forgetting that you already have ones. It is also often the case that some of them are expired before you know it. Decluttering works to prevent such trouble.
Are you trying anything to reduce your belongings or not to get new stuff? Share it with us by posting a comment, if you like!