A few years ago, Marie Kondo became a term associated with tidying up and cleaning. Honestly, back then, I thought Marie Kondo was just a term and not the name of a literal breathing human being. So, let delve into the background of the woman who made cleaning revolutionary.

Marie Kondo, also known as Konmari, is a Japanese organising consultant, author, and TV show host. She has written four books on organising, which went on to sold millions of copies around the world. Her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (2011) has been published in more than 30 countries. It was a best-seller in Japan and in Europe.

The Woman Behind Marie Kondo Hype
One of Kondo’s bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up which came out in 2011.

In the United States and the United Kingdom, the profile of Kondo and her methods were greatly promoted by the success of the Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, released in 2019, which gained Kondo a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Competition Program. She was also listed as one of Time’s “100 most influential people” in 2015. In 2019, Kondo opened an online store called KonMari.

Her interest in organising started during her childhood. In school, Kondo would often run into the classroom to tidy up bookshelves while her peers were playing in physical education. She would not seek nomination for class roles, such as being the class representatives or the pet feeder. Instead, she yearned to be the bookshelf manager to continue to tidy up books. She had a breakthrough when she realised that she was only looking for things to throw out, when instead she should be finding things that she wanted to keep. “Identify the things that make you happy: that is the work of tidying.”

Kondo’s method of organising is known as the KonMari method. It consists of gathering all the belongings of a person, one category at a time, and keeping those that only “spark joy”. According to her, it is advisable to start the tidying process by “quickly and completely” discarding things that do not spark joy. Kondo says that her method is partly inspired by the Shinto religion. Cleaning and organising things properly can be a spiritual practice in Shintoism, which is concerned with the energy or divine spirit of things (kami) and the right way to live (kannagara):

“Treasuring what you have; treating the objects you own as not disposable, but valuable, no matter their actual monetary worth; and creating displays so you can value each individual object are all essentially Shinto ways of living.”

Kondo is married to Takumi Kawahara, who is also her manager and CEO of Konmari Media, LLC. She has three children together. Now, Kondo and her family live in Los Angeles, California.