The Global Popularity of the KonMari Method: Unveiling its Cultural and Psychological Allure


The KonMari Method, developed by Marie Kondo, has surged to international fame, captivating individuals worldwide with its promises of decluttering, organization, and a renewed connection to one’s possessions. Rooted in the principles of Japanese Shinto philosophy, the method goes beyond mere tidying; it encompasses a spiritual and transformative experience. This essay delves into the multifaceted reasons behind the global popularity of the KonMari Method, examining its cultural elements, psychological appeal, and its resonance with individuals across diverse contexts. Drawing on various sources, including scholarly articles and primary accounts, we seek to understand what makes the KonMari Method a global phenomenon.

Cultural Significance and Shinto Influence

Kondo’s approach is deeply entwined with Japanese Shinto principles, emphasizing reverence and gratitude for objects. The Shinto belief in animism, where objects possess spiritual essence, has contributed to the method’s unique allure. Chayka (2020) critiques the KonMari Method as “empty promises” and a “craze for minimalism,” yet fails to acknowledge the profound cultural underpinnings that resonate with practitioners. In contrast, Dilloway (2019) highlights the overlooked Shinto roots of the method and the essential aspect it brings to understanding Kondo’s philosophy. This raises our first supporting question: Is there a particular aspect of Japanese Shinto in the KonMari Method that appeals to people outside Japan?

Kondo’s concept of thanking objects before discarding them reflects the Shinto practice of showing gratitude to inanimate entities. The method’s global appeal may stem from its cross-cultural ability to satisfy a human need for reverence and mindfulness in a consumer-driven world. Research by psychological anthropologist Adam Droogendyk (2018) supports the idea that cultural practices rooted in spirituality can fulfill psychological needs, possibly explaining the universal resonance of the KonMari Method.

Psychological Comfort and Minimalism’s Rise

The KonMari Method’s global popularity might also be attributed to its psychological comfort, especially in the face of modern anxieties. In the United States, for instance, where consumerism often fuels discontent, Kondo’s approach offers a tangible solution. The “throw-away” culture has led to feelings of guilt and environmental concern, creating an atmosphere ripe for the method’s appeal. By focusing on cherishing fewer possessions, the method seems to provide solace from overwhelming materialism. This leads us to our second supporting question: Why might the KonMari method appeal to so many people in the United States?

The rise of minimalism as a lifestyle trend further supports the method’s popularity. Minimalism emphasizes the pursuit of a fulfilling life over material accumulation, aligning with Kondo’s philosophy. In a study by Robinson et al. (2021), minimalism was found to be associated with increased well-being and life satisfaction. Kondo’s unique blend of minimalism and spiritual connection resonates not only with individuals seeking practical decluttering but also those searching for deeper meaning amidst societal pressures.

Cross-Cultural Adaptation and Media Influence

Cross-Cultural Adaptation: Bridging Divides and Embracing Diversity:
The global appeal of the KonMari Method is profoundly linked to its cross-cultural adaptability, allowing it to transcend geographical boundaries and resonate with diverse audiences. As the method migrated from its Japanese origins to international contexts, it underwent a process of adaptation that enabled it to bridge cultural divides. The power of the KonMari Method’s message lies not only in its practicality but also in its capacity to accommodate different cultural norms and sensibilities.

In today’s interconnected world, cultural diversity is celebrated, and the KonMari Method’s success can, in part, be attributed to its ability to adapt while preserving its core principles. As Dilloway (2019) emphasizes, the method’s Shinto roots might not be immediately relatable to audiences outside Japan, but its underlying message of gratitude and respect for possessions can be universally understood. The method’s emphasis on individualism and personal reflection also aligns with modern sensibilities, contributing to its seamless integration into various cultures.

Media Representation: Shaping Perceptions and Generating Interest:
Central to the global proliferation of the KonMari Method is its media representation. The method’s rise to fame owes much to the charismatic presence of its creator, Marie Kondo. In her YouTube videos (Kondo, 2019), books, and the widely popular Netflix show “Tidying Up,” Kondo’s engaging demeanor and transformative success stories have captured the attention of audiences worldwide. These visual and narrative representations serve not only to illustrate the method’s effectiveness but also to generate interest and curiosity.

Media representation plays a dual role in shaping public perception. Positive portrayals of individuals undergoing life-changing transformations through the KonMari Method inspire hope and create an emotional connection with viewers. On the other hand, critiques such as Chayka’s (2020) “empty promises” contribute to critical discourse, sparking debates and adding to the method’s visibility. Helliwell et al. (2020) point out that media’s influence extends beyond mere information dissemination; it shapes cultural norms and attitudes. In the case of the KonMari Method, media representation has played a pivotal role in positioning it as a viable and desirable lifestyle choice.

Cultural Norms and the Media Landscape:
The adaptation and spread of the KonMari Method are intricately tied to the evolving landscape of media consumption. In the digital age, information travels swiftly and transcends geographical boundaries, allowing cultural practices to be shared and adopted across different societies. Kondo’s method has ridden the wave of social media platforms, where individuals share their tidying journeys, before-and-after pictures, and testimonials. This decentralized form of media engagement further facilitates the method’s popularity by creating a sense of community among practitioners.

The media landscape is not merely a neutral platform for information dissemination; it also reflects and influences cultural norms. The KonMari Method’s visibility on social media platforms aligns with the increased emphasis on self-care and well-being in modern society. Users actively seek content that aligns with their values and aspirations, leading to the method’s organic growth through user-generated content. Robinson et al. (2021) underscore the role of social media in shaping lifestyle trends, affirming its significance in the method’s global reach.


The KonMari Method’s global popularity is not a result of empty promises, but rather a convergence of cultural, psychological, and media-driven factors. The method’s incorporation of Japanese Shinto philosophy resonates with individuals seeking spiritual connections, while its psychological comfort and alignment with minimalism fulfill the desires of those yearning for meaning amidst materialistic excess. Cross-cultural adaptation and media representation have enabled the method’s global dissemination, bridging cultural gaps and fostering its adoption.

As the world navigates an era of rapid consumption and evolving societal norms, the KonMari Method’s popularity endures, inviting reflection on the interplay between culture, psychology, and media. Exploring the cultural roots of the method and its psychological implications reveals the method’s capacity to satisfy innate human needs. The KonMari Method stands not merely as a trend, but as a reflection of contemporary desires for authenticity, mindfulness, and meaningful connection to the world around us. In this age of cultural diversity and media saturation, Kondo’s method serves as a testament to the universal quest for order and purpose in an increasingly chaotic world.


Chayka, K. (2020, January 3). The empty promises of Marie Kondo and the craze for minimalism. The Guardian.

Dilloway, M. (2019, January 22). What White, Western Audiences Don’t Understand About Marie Kondo’s ‘Tidying Up’: Backlash to the Netflix Show Ignores an Essential Aspect of the KonMari Method: Its Shinto Roots. HuffPost.

Droogendyk, A. L., & Templer, D. I. (2018). God and the Good Life: Testing a Non-Theistic Alternative to ‘Religion and the Good Life.’ Archive for the Psychology of Religion, 40(2), 167–180.

Helliwell, J. F., Huang, H., & Wang, S. (2020). Changing World Happiness. World Happiness Report 2020.

Kondo, M. (2019). Stories | How to Greet Your Home | KonMari. YouTube.

Robinson, C. C., Asebedo, S. E., & Finke, M. S. (2021). Minimalism and Well-Being: The Influence of Personality Traits. Journal of Financial Planning, 34(1), 46–56.