Starting Fresh: 5 Steps To Oosoji Like A Pro

Declutter Your Life In Every Way

By Hilary Keyes
December 18, 2020

Got something you don't need in your life? Old boxes, makeup, clothes? Relationships? It's time to put all that behind you.

With the New Year quickly approaching, there are plenty of things going on. Surely, you are running off your feet and likely leaving your home in disarray. But, one important aspect of New Year’s in Japan is called oosoji (大掃除) or “a big cleanup.”

Two small girls cleaning windows for oosoji

Oosoji is essentially a massive house cleaning done at the end of the year in order to purify the home, get rid of any lingering trash or useless items, and overall let the Japanese ring in the new year in clean surroundings. During this time of the year, you’ll find broken or old furniture left for garbage pickup outside people’s homes, huge bags of old bottles out for recycling, and even people coming around to clean ventilation fans and range hoods in apartments. 

If you’re in need of oosoji yourself, follow our five essential steps! 

1. No pink eye: old makeup and cosmetics

For oosoji, get rid of old makeup

No matter how much you love a certain eyeshadow, or how hard it is to find a decent wine red matte lipstick in Tokyo, makeup and cosmetics products do have an expiry date. Mascaras and eyeliners last about 3-6 months. For powders, cream eyeshadows and blushes it is about 6-12 months. Lipsticks last a year and nail polish around 6-12 months. 

Even if it doesn’t smell bad, the risk of infection should be enough to pitch out anything too old. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and it’s a great excuse to use New Year’s sales to treat yourself to some new products.

2. Too tight, too loose, or just not cool: old clothing

Stack of old clothes to discard (declutter) or keep. Recycle clothes, eco cotton

When it comes to clothing, you should always strive to look and feel your best. Whether that means a three-piece suit, a leather skirt and chacha heels, or track pants and a comfy t-shirt, your Japanese closet probably doesn’t have all that much space to keep clothing you don’t like or don’t want to wear in it.

That being said, finding places to donate clothes in Japan can be tough if you don’t know where to look. Places like Uniqlo and GU will take old, gently worn, clean clothing. They will then send them to needy communities around the world. H&M will take any old clothing or fabric (clean of course!), sort it out, and give you a ¥500-off coupon for your troubles.

If you belong to a church, community group, or charity such as the Salvation Army, they may also have a system in place for old donations too. You can also take old, good condition items (especially if they are brand named) to places like Mode Off. They will assess them and give you a fair cash price for your old items. 

3. Hard to part with: old books and magazines

It pains to admit this, but I have run out of space for books in my apartment. I bought a new bookshelf and have filled it completely—so I know the struggle that having books without a home can cause.

Luckily, I had a few (stacks of) magazines that I wasn’t too fussed about losing! I loaded up my grocery carrier and headed to Book Off. Book Off will take a look at your old books, and give some cash in return (usually not much). Even if you don’t get much money in return for your tomes, the store will take the ones that they didn’t offer any money for, so you needn’t worry about carrying them home again with you.

If you have some higher quality books, however, you’ll probably want to take them to a place like Bondi Books or send them to Infinity Books Japan. All of which will assess their quality and give you a fair price for your books.

4. A 66-day challenge: old habits and bad behaviors

oosoji: get rid of bad habits

Okay, we admit it—this is perhaps the toughest on the list. It is said that it takes 66 days to properly rid yourself of a bad habit or to start a new one. 66 days of consistent, concentrated effort! That sounds ridiculously intimidating, doesn’t it?

Just over two months of doing or not doing something every day. That takes determination. Whether you want to quit smoking, stop biting your nails, or stick to a diet it takes the average person 66 days to manage it. It is possible, though: I gave up fizzy drinks this way. By marking off on my calendar every day that I didn’t drink a coke, I found that, as the days went by, it got easier and easier. This way, it felt more like a personal challenge to myself to get away from that bad habit.

So, if you have a bad habit you have been wanting to get rid of for some time now, pick a cute new calendar from Loft and set a healthy 66-day goal for yourself.

5. Clean slate: no more bad dates or toxic friends

Next on the list, toxic friendships

Have you been a Tinder junkie this year? Or spent a little too much time at boy’s bars or host clubs? Friends that only ever seem to show up when they need cash or someone? 

If you’ve got a series of men in your life that you aren’t interested in any longer, or friends that haven’t exactly been friends recently, then you need to oosoji your social contacts too. It may seem flattering to have these guys on hand, and the occasional flirting can be a great ego boost. However, just keeping them around for the sake of your ego is not doing you or them any favors. Keeping friends that insult or demean you around is just as bad. You’re not a doormat or someone that should be pushed around by someone claiming to be your friend.

My Japanese friend Rio has this advice. It’s great when it comes to getting rid of guys (and it applies to bad friends, too): 

Not talking to someone but pining for them wastes time that could be spent with someone that cares about all of you. Why would you do that to yourself?

Sort out your contacts lists, remove/hide some people on your Line or Facebook accounts, and let them go. If they come back into your life in a more meaningful way, that’s wonderful. If not, then consider the relationship to have run its course, and move forward into 2021 with your eyes open for newer, better relationships.

Cleaning out your home, bad habits, and influences in your life take a lot of effort and physical strength, but if you can manage to clean up these five areas of your life, you’re sure to feel like a better, healthier version of “you” in 2021. Happy cleaning!

What will be your Oosoji plan? What do you want to get rid of before the new year? Share your thoughts in the comments. 

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