Will You Give Up Everything You Own For A Happier Life?

Katsuya Toyoda, an online publication editor, lives in a 22-square-meter apartment with only one table and one futon.

Japanese "minimalists" are now giving away most of their possessions, thanks to the Spartan aesthetic preached by Zen Buddhism.

Fumio Sasaki, 36, has a single room apartment in Tokyo, which is so frugal some of his friends compare it to an interrogation room. The 36-year-old also owns three shirts, four pairs of pants and a few more basic necessities and has joined the ranks of those in Japan who consider less to be more.

Sasaki, despite his past passion for collecting books and DVDs, became tired of following trends two years ago.

“I kept thinking about what I did not own, what was missing,” Sasaki stated.  Soon, he found himself shedding his woes by giving out most of his belongings.

“Spending less time on cleaning or shopping means I have more time to spend with friends, go out, or travel on my days off,” Sasaki said. “I have become a lot more active.”

Many Japanese city-dwellers have so much clutter in their homes, they cannot add something new without removing something else first.

“In the west, making a space complete means placing something there,” stated Naoki Numahata, 41, a freelance writer who lives with his 2-year-old daughter. “But with tea ceremonies, or Zen, things are left incomplete on purpose to let the person’s imagination make that space complete.”

Advocates of minimalism also argue that having few possessions is very practical in Japan, a country often rocked by intense earthquakes.

“Thirty to 50% of earthquake injuries occur through falling objects,” stated Sasaki, gesturing around his empty apartment. “But in this room, you don’t have that concern.”

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