Lifestyle: Minimalist approach attracting Japanese youth

After adopting a lifestyle that rejects material goods in favor of enriching experiences, a Tokyo-based author is spreading his mantra of minimalism to an increasingly receptive audience of young Japanese, according to a story by Kyodo News.

minimalist-room

“I was shocked to recognize that I can live with the bare minimum of things I need,” said Fumio Sasaki, an employee of a publishing company in Tokyo.

Sasaki, 36, has only a few items of clothing and a small sofa-bed in a roughly 20-square-meter apartment. The bed can be put into the closet, leaving the room virtually empty.

He buys books and then gives them away when he finishes them.

In the past, Sasaki’s apartment contained many books, musical instruments and CDs, as well as a big-screen television set and fashionable clothes.

“I bought books but didn’t read them, I left musical instruments lying around without playing them and I didn’t wear clothes I bought,” he said. “Still, I wanted to buy things I didn’t have.”

Learning about minimalism, Sasaki felt he was “controlled by things.”

He has thoroughly changed his lifestyle to practice minimalism. “When I read a book now, I can concentrate on it more than before. I also can work more efficiently,” he said.

He spends money he saves on traveling and socializing.

In June, Sasaki published his book on life as a minimalist, attracting readers mainly in their 20s and 30s.

Sanseido Bookstore Ltd’s Yurakucho branch in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward has opened a section for books on minimalism. Many company workers buy them on the way home from work, according to a sales clerk at the store.

Kota Ito, a 26-year-old freelance music producer, is more thoroughly devoted to minimalism. He has only a personal computer, digital camera and smartphone, as well as a few daily necessities in his backpack. With only one set of clothes he wears every day, he said, “I even don’t need a house to live in.”

Ito travels frequently around Japan and abroad, staying in inexpensive hotels and working via the Internet. Minimalism “gives me more time to think deeply and enriches my ideas,” he said.

A 29-year-old employee of a securities company in Osaka, who asked not to be identified, has become a minimalist because “I was tired of being swayed by the brand value of cars, consumer electronics and other goods.” He spends his private time attending concerts by his favorite idol group Momoiro Clover Z.

Minimalism is drawing attention from businesses as well, said Satoru Imamura, a former banker heading an association that advises more than 100 companies across Japan about how to get rid of unnecessary items and demonstrates cleanup techniques.

A printing company in Kyoto has thoroughly adhered to a rule, introduced two years ago under the association’s guidance, to do away with things unused for two weeks. The elimination of waste has helped the firm keep logging year-on-year gains of 30% in both sales and profit, Imamura said.

Like humans, companies can also improve the power of concentration by cutting down what they have, Imamura said. “There is no longer value to have a large number of things.”



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