Marie Kondo and the Life-Changing Magic of Japanese Soft Power

NEW YORK TIMES:   The tidying guru is heir to a long tradition: Japan marketing itself as spiritual foil to a soulless West.

By Christopher Harding

Mr. Harding is a lecturer in Asian history and an author.

A diminutive Japanese woman kneels, eyes closed, caressing a rug with open palms. She appears to be praying — to a house. She greets it, thanking it for its service.

The camera pans to her American hosts, Kevin and Rachel. Ensconced in armchairs, struggling to keep a straight face, they look a little like children in church — and in a way, they are. In her new Netflix series, the decluttering guru Marie Kondo is shown not just sprucing up people’s homes but also reimagining them as sacred spaces — channeling her experience as a former assistant at a Shinto shrine, along with the related belief that life, even consciousness, of a kind, courses through everything.

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