My word for 2011: Danshari (断捨離)

Danshari (断捨離) will be my word for 2011.

When I told my Japanese co-workers this, they looked at me with puzzled expressions. They had never heard this word! I first learned about the word on a blog called “Create Eat Happy“. That blog explains “danshari” as follows:

断捨離 (danshari) means to throw away unnecessary stuff. It’s one of the keywords of the recent years in Japan.

“断” (dan) – to cut out unnecessary stuff. ex) receipts, shopping bags, coupons, etc…
“捨” (sha) – to throw away junk. ex) clothes, books, toys, etc…
“離” (ri) – to step away from your obsessions. ex) souvenirs, anniversary gifts, etc…

The idea is, if you throw away unnecessary stuff around you, you’ll get more room, time and energy around you that lead you to an affluent (comfortable) life.

As soon as I read this I knew it had to be my word this year. After my co-workers’ reaction, I thought I’d better try to check the actual existence of this word. My Japanese reading skills are still poor, but I managed to find mentions of “danshari” here and here on English sites. So I’m pretty convinced that it is in fact a newly coined word, but would still like a Japanese person to confirm this (can anyone do that??).

Why “danshari”? Well, moving house always encourages me to have a good old clear out and try to minimise my belongings. When I came to Japan I had to condense myself into a couple of suitcases and a couple of boxes, but I was pretty bad at the “ri” part and left boxes and boxes of memories and obsessions in my mum’s house. Also books, CDs, DVDs… I have a whole room full of things there that I will have to go through when I return to England.

So, as I plan to move countries again, I have to figure out how to condense my life into about 27kg of luggage and one cubic metre of shipping. Of course, I won’t be throwing out all of my memories. But I am trying to be really strict with myself and throw away the unnecessary junk that I’ve hoarded over my three years in Japan.

Luckily, much of my life is now digital. I don’t have photo albums or many CDs – just an external hard drive. I don’t have lots of notebooks – just a couple, and my blogs.  But I know it will be no easy task. That’s why I have already begun – even though I’m not moving until April! 😉


5 thoughts on “My word for 2011: Danshari (断捨離)

  1. I´m a Japanese but I´ve never heard of that expression.
    Now I´ll also try to live with that word because I´m planning to move again…


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  3. One of my English students here in Japan was just talking about this word. She said it was her goal for this year and that the concept is going through a boom now. I found you site as I was trying to confirm the meaning of the word on the net. Your explanation seems to be pretty spot on from what I can tell.


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