Do you Osouji?

I hope you enjoyed Christmas and are now relaxing with those who are dear to you. It can be an exhausting time, and definitely one of accumulation and consumption.


The Christian roots of Christmas place it quite clearly as the beginning of an era, but as an annual event it actually feels to me more like the end of one. We’ve worked hard, progressed in our careers and friendships, taken holidays, but in December the days are at their shortest and the nights are long and cold. We light candles and strings of twinkling bulbs. We bake, prepare warm drinks, and bring the best bits of the outdoors in with trees, holly and mistletoe.  We spend months planning how to spoil our loved ones, secretly trying to figure out what will fill them with joy when they tear off the wrapping on Christmas morning.

And then it’s done. I write this on December the 27th. The weather here in Malta is chilly, extremely windy, and a walk outdoors seems unwelcoming. The afternoon light is bright but it’s clear that the evening will be with us before long. Christmas actually feels a million miles away, but saying that, we never bothered to renew our TV subscription so we’re not watching festive things to keep us in the mood. Mainly Designated Survivor…


My mind has already turned to the year ahead, the gifts have been found places to ‘live’, and the final festive pannettone has been purchased (possibly…though it IS good enough to warrant another to take us through to January). UPDATE: Yes, we need another.


I’ve been reading about a Japanese tradition – Osouji. This is basically to process of having a Good Clear Out before the New Year arrives. The rationale is that it isn’t right to take any clutter, dirt or ‘impure influences’ into January. Osouji is often carried out on New Year’s Eve itself and the whole family are expected to get involved with sorting, carrying, re-organising, discarding and cleaning. The goal is purification – moving into a bright new year with a clear, clean home filled with useful and joy-sparking items only. Clutter and old paperwork are left behind with the old year.

I can definitely see how this would help in sticking to New Year’s Resolutions. Trying to lose weight? Easier if you know that everything in the cupboards is in date and that you need to lose X kilos for your favourite jeans to fit well again.

Aiming to get a promotion at work? Easier to justify a pay rise if you know from your payslips how much you’ve earned over the course of your career so far.

Resolved to exercise each day? Easier to squeeze in a ten-minute workout when you wake up if you don’t have to move stacks of magazines.


If you’re planning on decluttering the KonMari way, you’ll know that it doesn’t really sit in line with Osouji as each of Marie Kondo’s 5 categories can take 4-7 hours. This would be pretty intense for New Year’s Eve, especially if you intended to celebrate that night!

However, you can still use the principles of Osouji to make a head start:

  1. Read ‘The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying’ or one of Marie Kondo’s other books.
  2. Use Pinterest or Instagram to find a KonMari checklist that will be used to help you cover all parts of your home. Download and print.
  3. Start the first category, clothes.

Doing this before you start work again ‘properly’ in January means you’ve done some pre-New Year home cleansing. Out with the old, the forgotten, the broken, the unloved, the unneeded, the too small or too big, the no-longer-fashionable. Your mindset will be more firmly fixed on 2018 and your personal goals, therefore you can start the year feeling ready to continue your tidying challenge.


If you’re already comfortable that your house is pretty free of unloved items and clutter,  definitely still use a day to see your home with fresh eyes and give it a deep clean. If you know that a particular category is getting a little disorderly, you could use Osouji day to rein it in to a more manageable level. My area to focus on will be food komono. The canned and dried goods cupboard is looking suspiciously cluttered.


UPDATE: Yes, we need another. We ate ¾ in 40 minutes. Very good.


TL;DR? Osouji is the Japanese ‘Spring Clean’ that happens before New Year. It aims to purify the home and therefore the mind, allowing the new year to be started with no ‘hangover’ from the previous year. If you want to KonMari don’t try to do it all in a day. You can still embrace Osouji and experience the purifying effects by reading Marie Kondo’s books and starting clothing. This will motivate you to continue as you’ll already be feeling the positive effects. Pannettone is excellent.


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