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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Tokimeku - heart aflutter

ときめく


I was talking to a colleague today about tidying up, and she said that her secret to keeping things tidy at home was to keep only those things that did something for her, that awoke something in her, or, as she put it in Japanese, kokoro tokimeku mono (literally "heart flutter thing") and - besides the boring necessities like tax-related documents - throw everything else out.

To call it a secret, though, is misleading, as she had actually read it in a best-selling book by Japanese "tidiness consultant," Marie Kondo, called "Awaking Something in You: the Magic of Staying Tidy" (Jinsei ga Tokimeku Katazuke no Maho), published in 2011 and with almost 1,000 mostly favorable reviews on Amazon Japan.

tokimeku is a verb meaning "flutter," but usually in a figurative rather than literal sense. The word "flutter" suggests something of romantic interest in English. Tokimeku certainly has that meaning, and is used a lot to talk about infatuation between people, but tokimeku goes further than what in English we would call "things of the heart" to include anything that finds instant resonance with something inside you. Tokimeku is used especially by Japanese girls to describe how they feel when they see clothes, shoes, a book, a boy or a girl, that does something for them.

So "a pair of shoes that really does it for me" is kokoro tokimeku kutsu, or "a book that sparks my interest" is kokoro tokimeku hon, or "a candidate who grabs me" (again, figuratively!) would be a kokoro tokimeku kouhosha.

So, try using tokimeki when describing an encounter with something or someone who makes you feel a bit more alive, a bit more connected with the world all of a sudden, and, probably most importantly, wanting a bit of the magic that it, he or she has got.

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