Kanso: The Japanese Minimalist Approach

minimalist kanso kitchen
Photo courtesy of: Tokiesmixes

Truth be told, simplicity doesn’t look the same for everyone. Most of us taught that we should always get the best of all things. It is said that people fall easily into the trap of their ego. When thinking about an idea, people tend to build suspense out of the praise they’ll get instead of ideally thinking about the solution. So, how did having a big ego can ruin your home interior?

Nothing displays wealth like buying things that are not functional. People tend to buy more, to feel more. Feel in a sense of having security when surrounded by certain goods. But in fact, those goods will only end up being piled up at your home. According to a Japanese belief, the state of our external environments directly impacts our inner selves.

When it comes to combining wise, profound life philosophy with an interior design that guarantees peace of mind, people always turn to Japan. Kanso is pertaining to the concept of simplicity. It is also a minimalist approach not only to interior design but to the way you live your life. It is the appreciation of having something and not throwing away because it is old. Applying kanso to your home and lifestyle allows you to appreciate the lifetime of things and to be in the moment. With kanso, acknowledging the beauty of your life is a priority.


Deriving from Zen Buddhism, kanso considers the movement of energy in a room. The more objects in a room, the harder it is for energy to flow freely, creating a hectic atmosphere. Kanso encourages us to keep only what is necessary, to allow more space for quiet moments of contemplation


Wabi-sabi is often mentioned in asian interior design concept. It is also known as the “melancholic beauty” in aesthetics. It tells us that things do not need to be perfect or super refined to be beautiful, because, in the great scheme of life, everything moves in a never ending circle of death and rebirth. Meanwhile, Kanso in Japanese design is elimination of ornate and things of simplicity by nature expresses their truthfulness.

kanso inspired living room
Photo courtesy of Pinimg

In the context of interior design, Kanso translates into the elimination of clutter. Well not really. Decluttering means getting rid of what we never actually use. Like all the superfluous clutter that has been residing at your home for years. The common risk in decluttering is sometimes it comes an automatic process. This idea does not exist in Kanso.


Whether you’ll use Kanso as a life philosophy or an interior design aesthetic, the final goal is clarity. Clarity can be reached by getting rid of obstacles around you. An omission or an exclusion of anything that doesn’t serve a purpose is key.


The clarity as a goal is where the whole Kanso philosophy is built. The clarity of mind and soul is also noted in the philosophy. In interior design, it should have a goal in putting specific things at your home. Being surrounded by an environment where everything has a specific, essential function and nothing is redundant will certainly help pointing you in the right direction.


A fan of seeing beauty in everything?

black and white interior design
Photo courtesy of: Eastlaw

Think of all the stress you feel the pressure on your shoulders. Every single day, you wake up at 6am, have breakfast and rush outside or sometimes you won’t even had the time to grab breakfast anymore. While rushing to work, you pray to all the gods you won’t end up clocking in late. The morning goes on, and it’s just one meeting after another, a new task to tackle after the one you’ve just finished dealing with. Not to mention having to struggle not lose your temper with that annoying co-worker who somehow always seems to find a way to complain about everything, and so on. Sounds familiar? There’s a very high chance it does, because this is the pace at which our daily lives move.

Now think about your life outside work. If you’re a parent, you’ll go home to your family, deal with your children’s dilemna or sometimes you’ll cook dinner. If you’re single, you’ll have to deal with other stuff too. Grad school, bills or even with your crazy ex. 


Now that we have mentioned the stresses of life, it is starting to make sense why Kanso is needed in our lives. People so often feel lost in the maze that people need to come home to a quiet, peaceful, essential environment that reminds what is really and truly important in life.To truly incorporate Kanso into our lives, it is needed  to appreciate that things only last for so long.


Kanso is about stripping the house down to the bare minimum, so that means getting rid of extraneous items, like those plushies you’ve been keeping. Anything that is not absolutely necessary should be omitted from the space, but bare essentials should be kept: a bed, table, or chair. Think about it this way: what actually provides function?


Photo courtesy of: Happy Grey Lucky

With Kanso, it’s important to recognize that beauty and utility don’t have to be overstated or highly decorative—just plain and uncomplicated—which is why those who follow this concept keep only what’s absolutely necessary.

The result is a space that’s calm, clear, and clutter-free. The satisfying gratification of quietness and simplicity. An awakening of the mind. Kanso is a rising trend amongst the dedicated organizers, functionalists, design mavericks, and so many more.

modern minimalist living room
Photo courtesy of: CDN images

Kanso gives us a peaceful break and allows us to not worry about how our space looks. Rather, it allows us to relax and enjoy our surroundings, despite the lack of things.

Kanso is a hoarder’s worst nightmare. That’s because, first and foremost, it calls for the elimination of everything non-essential. So, what counts as non-essential? Well, basically anything that you can live without. By eliminating unnecessary clutter you’ll achieve a calmer and happier state of mind.

modern kitchen
Photo courtesy of: CDN.vox

By committing to a purpose when you’re designing to your home, you’ll be less likely to stuff your rooms with objects and items that simply aren’t needed. It will also mean that you get the most out of your room.Of course, you’re free to style your whole house as a whole, flowing Kanso environment! Needless to say, also thanks to the recent popularity of wabi-sabi, it’s fairly easy to find home décor designs that fit this style.

Design concepts like kanso aren’t for everyone. For most people, following kanso to the letter would feel pretty extreme.Take the ideas and elements you like and use them in a way that works for you.

Don’t strive to create a kanso-inspired home that’s fit for Instagram or Pinterest if it’s not something feel comfortable doing.

According to Japanese belief, the state of our external environments directly impacts our inner selves. And nowhere is that truer than in our homes, where clutter can cause subconscious feelings of stress and disorganization. Optimize the features of your home! 

Tokyo Grand Renovation (TGR) is a Japanese home interior design and renovation firm that focuses on designing and building luxury spaces that are stylish, elegant, and also functional using Japanese lifestyle craftsmanship. TGR is located at the heart of Makati Central District. Learn more about us here.

For inquiries, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 832 16 76, or send an e-mail at  info@tgr.com.ph.

TGRはマカティの高級インテリアデザイン、リノベーション、会社です。TGRは 住宅および商業 スペースの為のデザインと建築を提供 し ております。お問い合わせは 、02832 1676 にお電話いただくか、 電子メール info@tgr.com.ph へ送信 お願いします。


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