Are you a Happy Victim?

Came across the amazing work of Kyoichi Tsuzuki who has photographed Generation X Tokyoites in Japan who have been obsessed with a brand or designer.

Apartments in Japan are generally pretty small compared to what you can find in North America and their homes are hoarding boxes for their obsessions.

You’d imagine that people who are collectors for seemingly meaningless, overpriced, materialistic items would be unhappy, but Tsuzuki says that for them, it has the opposite effect.

He calls them “Happy Victims”.

The photos went into a book called Tokyo Style.

As interviewed by Theme (highly recommended you read the interview), he said:

With the work that you do, what really fascinates you? 

What fascinates me most is imbalance.

You are taught that it’s nice to have a hobby, but also that you have to think about balance—30% of your income should be spent on your home, 15% on your hobby, 20% on your food, whatever—to have a harmonious lifestyle.

But some people lose their balance. They spend like, 80% on their hobby. I like that!

That might sound stupid, but that’s energy.

A harmonious life doesn’t have energy. So that sort of imbalance encourages me.

These young people could move out to the suburbs and have better rooms; if they didn’t spend so much money on clubbing and mobile phones, they might be able to have a better lifestyle.

But they don’t, that’s not their interest.

I like that they know the power to step out of balance.

Whether it’s in their home or with fashion.

The subject might change, but it’s that lack of balance that makes me interested. 

It is interesting to read his viewpoint and to see what he sees instead of what we are conditioned to see.


(An Anna Sui Happy Victim)

Granted, I have a bit of an affinity (and utter fascination) with these photos, as I am the type of girl who really takes fashion and style to heart.

I probably have what people might term a small obsession with hoard-like tendencies towards jewelery and clothing.

So I can absolutely relate to having things that make me happy.


Vivienne Tam Happy Victim

I am not going to lie and say I’m some sort of Zen Minimalist who has nothing at all, because that could not be farther from the truth.

I just have the things that do make me happy.

With everything else, I am pretty low key.

Not much in my bathroom, not interested in decorating my home, I own a fair bit of technology but but only the things that I really do use often. If not, I just donate it to my family.

I even live in a super small apartment with my boyfriend. We live, eat, sleep and work in exactly one space. 

I don’t hang anything on my walls because it would make the place even more cluttered.

People find it weird, uncomfortable and hard to believe it could be comfortable.

Some have even called it devoid of personality, warmth and comfort.

But it simply couldn’t be farther from the truth for me.

It all depends on your perspective.

As Tsuzuki says:

Rich people with big spaces—when there’s more than one level in the house, and all these walkin closets—it doesn’t really show what you have.

But in a three-meter by three-meter room, everything shows. The room becomes a part of yourself.

While others find my lifestyle very stark, bare and minimalist…. I think of myself as just putting my money and my energy in keeping what gives me the most pleasure.

I think Tsuzuki sums it up perfectly for me in this answer:

I don’t want to say it’s stupid, but imagine it: A very small room, the person doesn’t have a lot of money but they spend all their money on books, and they fill their small room with books, you wouldn’t say they’re stupid.


But a small room filled with Comme des Garçons, looks really stupid, no?

That is our prejudice—that the person who spends all their money on books looks better than the person with Comme des Garçons.

There’s a hierarchy: Books have the highest position, then records, and fashion is kind of on the bottom.

But it’s all the same.

It’s how your passion flows.


(A Happy Victim to Martin Margiela)

This guy in the above picture doesn’t even eat or cook in his apartment because he doesn’t want the food smells to get anywhere close to coming near the fibers of his precious collection.


This one is sort of sad for me.


(A Gucci Victim holding her baby)



2426224686_62d085546b(Dries van Noten Happy Victim)











Resources used


About the Author

I'm a 20-something year old girl who lived out of a single suitcase in 2007, and now I'm living with less, but only with the best. You don't have to get rid of everything to become a minimalist! Minimalism can help simplify and organize your life, career, & physical surroundings. You can read more about me as a minimalist. Or come and visit my other blog Fabulously Broke in the City where I got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months, earning $65,000 gross/year.