Watch Your Steps! 4 Main Situations of Taking Off Your Shoes in Japan
I guess you might heard that it is a Japanese custom to remove your shoes before entering a house. However, that is not the only situation. Many of you may be wondering when to take off your shoes or change your slippers, so here’s the 4 main situations where you are expected take off your shoes in Japan.
1. Before Entering The House
The first and most common situation you will encounter is when you are expected to take off your shoes before entering the house. In Japan, you have to remove your shoes at the genkan (entrance of a Japanese home) before stepping inside the house, and it is a custom to put them neatly together so that they will face the outside. Also, when you have a plan to go to a friend’s house in Japan, it might be a good idea to prepare some new pairs of socks, since there are times when you realize that you came with a hole in them.
You might have seen manga and anime characters wearing uwabaki, or indoor shoes, at school. From kindergarten all up to high school, students in Japan are expected to change their shoes to uwabaki, before entering the building. Uwabaki are very light and flexible, and are designed so that students can easily move around. If you have any plans visiting Japanese schools, don’t forget to have them ready!
3. Japanese Style Restaurants And Izakaya
Another place where you might have to take off your shoes is at some Japanese style restaurants or Izakaya. In most of these Japanese style restaurants, customers have to sit on tatami mats, which require them to remove their shoes. You can be either barefoot or in socks, so you can just take off your socks if you realize that there’s a hole in it.
You might find it peculiar to remove your slippers before entering bathrooms in some places. “Do I have to go in the bathroom barefoot?” Don’t worry, there is a set of toilet slippers ready for you, and you will only have to switch from indoor slippers to toilet slippers. It might be a bit confusing, but just make sure to change your slippers back again when you leave the bathroom, because it’s quite embarrassing to walk around with your toilet slippers.
Overall, slippers and getabako (shoe boxes) are signs to remove your shoes, and always have a clean pair of socks ready in Japan!
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