Who is Marie Kondo’s Translator on ‘Tidying Up?’

If you’ve watched Netflix’s Tidying up with Marie Kondo, then two things have probably happened.

  1. You’ve gone through your closet desperately trying to get rid of everything that doesn’t “spark joy.”
  2. You’ve fallen in love with 4-foot-7 Kondo.

While Kondo is adorable and one of the sweetest ladies on Netflix, she wouldn’t have half as big of an impact if it weren’t for her translator. But who really is Kondo’s translator? The mystery woman spends so much time conveying what Kondo is saying that we learn almost nothing about her on the show.


Who is Kondo’s Translator?

The woman behind Kondo is Marie Iida. The 35-year-old may have just broken into mainstream pop culture through the series, but she is no newbie to translating.

When she first started her career, interpreting wasn’t actually her goal. After she graduated from New York University with degrees in literature and cinema studies she continued on to Columbia University to join the American studies masters program.

Her first interpretation job was assisting Ethan Hawke during his promotional tour for “The Hottest State” in Tokyo.

 “My first client as an interpreter was this huge Hollywood actor, which was nerve-wracking!” she said in a 2016 interview.  “I only did it for the first day until the real interpreter came and just watching her really mesmerized me.”



After seeing a professional interpreter, Iida worked to become an established translator for Japanese arts programs.

“It was really never my intention to become a spoken interpreter,” Iida told Quartz. “I just started to seriously study interpreting after graduating from Columbia. There are so many accomplished interpreters in New York City and they just kind of took me under their wing. I learned by shadowing them. They taught me to read voraciously in both Japanese and English.”

Iida never took professional interpretation courses. She learned how to interpret from reading.

“I think in our daily conversations we generally use about 700 words, but in interpretation, you encounter so many obscure or abstract language that you need a very extensive vocabulary,” she continued in the interview. “Understanding not only specific words but context, both linguistic and cultural, is so crucial when interpreting and translating. There’s no better way to do that than reading.”

In addition to reading, she also listened to radio and TV shows while translating them in her head.

She now lives in Los Angeles and has worked for a number of large corporations including, Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the Cannes Film Festival, and HBO.


Where Did She Meet Kondo?

Iida first met Kondo in 2016 at New York’s Japan Society.

Tomomi Sekiya, director of the Japan Society’s public talk series had great things to say about Iida. In an interview with Quartz, he said that she “has a great energy and stage presence, but she manages never to upstage the speaker. “We’re thrilled to see her on Tidying Up, where she has a unique opportunity to share her skills with millions of viewers around the world.”



Why Does She Work in Film and TV?

In the same interview, Iida said that there were so many interpreting specialties that she could have fallen into, but ultimately the arts and culture interested her the most.

” I tried different ones, but I think because of my natural interest in art and culture, I gravitated towards working with creatives and artists,” she said. “I love interpreting for artists and creatives because there’s something so idiosyncratic about the way they speak and the words they choose.”

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