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The Oosouji Home: The Japanese Art of Cleaning

In Japan, to observe Oosouji means to clean the clutter, the dirt and the dust of the past. It is often practiced at the end of one year and into the new, the purpose being to banish any old problems or ways of thinking and to welcome a new start, with a clean slate (and home).  The word Oosouji literally means “big cleaning,” and that is exactly what takes place. Japanese businesses close open contracts and files and organize them; children clean out their school desks, and homes receive a thorough clean from top to bottom. It is not only a chance to have a fresh start, but also a ritual of respect, to present a clean home in which to welcome in the gods.  While the Japanese view the changing of the year as a distinct time to clear out the dirt and bad habits of disorganization, homeowners can observe Oosouji any time of year. In fact, in America, we often have similar aspirations and resolutions to get things back in order. Sometimes this is through New Year resolutions for home organization, or through the annual spring cleaning.  Observing Oosouji is more than just cleaning and organizing in a physical sense. It carries with it a state of mind. Creating order out of chaos can be good for the soul, so can letting go of unwanted things. The Japanese view this ritual as a way of driving out any impure influences while avoiding dragging old business over into the new year.  To cultivate a Oosouji home, one should adopt the attitude of cleaning and decluttering as a ritual, not as a monotonous chore. When you sweep the dust, you are also sweeping away the dirt of the past.  Along with the annual ritual of Oosouji, the Japanese place an emphasis on minimalism. Reflected in everything from architecture to home decor, minimalism is cultivated as an art form, creating a pleasing home with fewer, more meaningful, objects and with an emphasis on design and function instead of acquisition. By these thoughts, there should be nothing in the home that is not meaningful, useful or pleasing.  Of course, things creep in through the year, and so, Oosouji is a way of resolving what gets to stay and what doesn’t, and honoring the home and possessions in a purposeful way. To practice the Japanese art of cleaning in the New Year, you should: Start at the top. Oosouji is a top to bottom cleaning. Dust ceilings, wipe down walls, dust furniture and then vacuum, sweep or mop floors. Dirt and dust settles with gravity. Starting from the top and working your way down in a room makes sense.  Likewise, you should start at the entrance to a room and work your way around it in a clockwise rotation. You will end up back and the entrance of the room, which is also the exit and symbolic of leaving the old disorganization behind.  Place several and boxes in each room for items that are no longer useful, beautiful or loved. Places these items in the boxes. When you need a break from cleaning, take the boxes to your local charity center and donate them. Passing items on to others is good for the soul.  Include a bag or box for trash. Take it completely out of the house as soon you are done cleaning a room.  Involve the entire family in the cleaning. Each family member should have say over their individual possessions and get the benefit of banishing the old to welcome a fresh start.  Remove stains from your home, whether they are on the furniture upholstery or the shower grout. Research tricks for getting out tough stains, or resolve to replace or repair if needed. Old stains remind you of the past in a negative way.  Image Source: HomeandGardenDesignIdeas.com    
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The Oosouji Home: The Japanese Art of Cleaning

Cleaning & Organization | HGDI ADMIN

In Japan, to observe Oosouji means to clean the clutter, the dirt and the dust of the past. It is often practiced at the end of one year and into the new, the purpose being to banish any old problems or ways of thinking and to welcome a new start, with a clean slate (and home). 

The word Oosouji literally means “big cleaning,” and that is exactly what takes place. Japanese businesses close open contracts and files and organize them; children clean out their school desks, and homes receive a thorough clean from top to bottom. It is not only a chance to have a fresh start, but also a ritual of respect, to present a clean home in which to welcome in the gods. 

While the Japanese view the changing of the year as a distinct time to clear out the dirt and bad habits of disorganization, homeowners can observe Oosouji any time of year. In fact, in America, we often have similar aspirations and resolutions to get things back in order. Sometimes this is through New Year resolutions for home organization, or through the annual spring cleaning. 

Observing Oosouji is more than just cleaning and organizing in a physical sense. It carries with it a state of mind. Creating order out of chaos can be good for the soul, so can letting go of unwanted things. The Japanese view this ritual as a way of driving out any impure influences while avoiding dragging old business over into the new year. 

To cultivate a Oosouji home, one should adopt the attitude of cleaning and decluttering as a ritual, not as a monotonous chore. When you sweep the dust, you are also sweeping away the dirt of the past. 

Along with the annual ritual of Oosouji, the Japanese place an emphasis on minimalism. Reflected in everything from architecture to home decor, minimalism is cultivated as an art form, creating a pleasing home with fewer, more meaningful, objects and with an emphasis on design and function instead of acquisition. By these thoughts, there should be nothing in the home that is not meaningful, useful or pleasing. 

Of course, things creep in through the year, and so, Oosouji is a way of resolving what gets to stay and what doesn’t, and honoring the home and possessions in a purposeful way.

To practice the Japanese art of cleaning in the New Year, you should:

  • Start at the top. Oosouji is a top to bottom cleaning. Dust ceilings, wipe down walls, dust furniture and then vacuum, sweep or mop floors. Dirt and dust settles with gravity. Starting from the top and working your way down in a room makes sense. 
  • Likewise, you should start at the entrance to a room and work your way around it in a clockwise rotation. You will end up back and the entrance of the room, which is also the exit and symbolic of leaving the old disorganization behind. 
  • Place several and boxes in each room for items that are no longer useful, beautiful or loved. Places these items in the boxes. When you need a break from cleaning, take the boxes to your local charity center and donate them. Passing items on to others is good for the soul. 
  • Include a bag or box for trash. Take it completely out of the house as soon you are done cleaning a room. 
  • Involve the entire family in the cleaning. Each family member should have say over their individual possessions and get the benefit of banishing the old to welcome a fresh start. 
  • Remove stains from your home, whether they are on the furniture upholstery or the shower grout. Research tricks for getting out tough stains, or resolve to replace or repair if needed. Old stains remind you of the past in a negative way. 

Image Source: HomeandGardenDesignIdeas.com

 

 

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