Marie Kondo has been perfecting her tidying technique since she was a little girl, and the KonMari Method™ is the culmination of years of research, trial and error. “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” made Marie and her method a household name, but building her business has been a behind-the-scenes collaboration with her partner, Takumi Kawahara.
Marie and Takumi met in front of an elevator at a speaking event when they were both 21-years old. Their relationship as confidants evolved over time, and they married several years later as Marie’s tidying career was taking off. Takumi quit his job to help Marie expand her work, and as the Co-founder and CEO of KonMari Media, Inc., he keeps the company running.
Part of what makes their partnership thrive is the combination of Marie’s quiet introspection and attention to detail alongside Takumi’s larger-than-life personality. Friendly, funny and bursting with joy, Takumi not only puts people at ease but truly embodies the KonMari philosophy.
Just as we’ve asked Marie to reflect on motherhood, we wanted to hear Takumi’s take on fatherhood and family – his other big collaboration with Marie.
Which parts of parenting come most easily to you? What parts are more challenging?
Luckily, I feel like most aspects of parenting come naturally to me. I’m full of love and affection for my daughters – it just flows out of me.
What’s challenging is to see them inherit behaviors that I’m still working on – like worrying too much about what others think of them.
What’s something about parenting that you wish someone told you beforehand?
Tidy your house before you have kids. I’m married to Marie, so of course our house was tidy before we became parents, but we weren’t fully prepared for the mess and disorder that comes with kids. Once you become a parent, your schedule goes out the window – things like tidying can become a low priority.
The beauty of the KonMari Method™ is that you give everything a home. Since Marie and I had already established where all of our possessions belonged, tidying up at the end of the day as new, sleep-deprived parents was easy.
Another piece of advice: Think about how you were raised and remember your own childhood – the way your parents treated you when you were growing up will have a big impact on how you treat your kids. Talk about it with your partner; discuss what you did and didn’t like about how your own upbringing.
“My own father taught me answers aren't in a textbook – they're out in the world. He encouraged me to pursue what made me different from others.”
Describe parenting in three words:
Love, love and love.
What’s the best gift your daughters have given you?
The gift of being continually surprised. Parenting keeps me on my toes.
Who’s tidier? You or your kids?
How do you celebrate Father’s Day? Any special rituals or traditions you’ve created as a family – or ones that have carried over from celebrating this holiday in Japan?
Typically Mother’s Day is a bigger deal in Japan than Father’s Day. I’m secretly hoping my daughters will hand make cards for me, which is what I’ve helped them make for Marie in the past.
What’s the best advice your dad ever gave you?
Don’t study too much. The answers are not in a textbook – they’re out in the world. Be street smart. Play, read manga. Do what makes you different from others.
What’s the best lesson your daughters have taught you?
They have shown me that kids thrive when they receive unconditional love.
What’s your favorite activity to do with them?
Right now we love playing hide-and-seek. They are really getting great at hiding and come up with inventive spots, like a shelf in the back of a closet behind the clothes. Sometimes my younger daughter will come out on her own and say, “I lost.”
What’s it like to speak two languages with them?
It can be surprising sometimes. They use phrases that would be considered disrespectful in Japan, like, “You’re silly, dad!” that are actually signs of affection in English. One of my daughters likes to shorten certain Japanese phrases and incorporate them into her English sentences – I know I’m biased, but I think that’s pretty clever.
Which of your characteristics do you see reflected in your children?