Friday, October 8, 2010

Take your shoes off!


In Japan, it is customary to take your shoes off whenever you enter a home. However, shoes removal is not limited to homes, but also applies to entering a shrine, temple, and schools. When you first enter a Japanese home, there is an area called Genkan where you take off your shoes and usually slip into indoor shoes, such as slippers.

To me, it makes so much sense to take off my shoes whenever I come home. I hate dragging the outside dirt around my apartment, especially since I sleep and eat right on the floor. In Canada, I grew up taking off my shoes when I'd come home. I don't remember ever wearing shoes indoors.

Some of my fellow expatriate friends do wear shoes indoors, and did it back home. I also noticed that when I watch some television shows such as Friends, they wear shoes indoors. It has become a major pet peeve of mine to see characters wearing shoes while sitting on a couch or even on a bed. I think it comes from living in Japan, where it's a major, MAJOR no-no. I had a mini panic attack once when one of my visitors walked right into my apartment without taking off his shoes. Am I crazy? I know when I first came to Japan I probably forgot to take off my shoes in some areas where I had to, some I'm sure I've committed some cultural crimes once or twice.

What do you think? Do you wear shoes indoors?


{My Genkan.}

9 comments:

French lover said...

Je comprends tellement !! J'ai toujours enlevé mes chaussures en entrant chez moi. Beaucoup de mes amis portent leurs chaussures chez eux également... eww... dans la salle de bain ? dans la chambre ? Eurk !! Je marche pieds-nus partout chez moi, je ne veux pas de la saleté parisienne sous mes pieds thankyouverymuch.

Le plus énervant, c'est quand tes invités n'enlèvent pas leurs chaussures... Ca me rappelle l'épisode de SATC "A Woman's Right to Shoes". Hehe

Madeleine said...

My friend who lived in Japan for some years said that in some restaurants (?) you also have to take your shoes off when you go to the bathroom and put on slippers that are supplied there. She said so many people would forget to take the slippers off and would come out wearing them.

As for shoes indoors for me: big no-no. I am Polish and I think it's the Polish way to always take your shoes off upon entering a home. When I woud have friends over I would have to sometimes (awkwardly) ask them to please take their shoes off before coming inside.

Shoes off makes perfect sense. Long live slippers :)

Coffee_c said...

In my parent's house we use to wear shoes but at my house we take 'em off.

When my parents come over, they wear it in my house and it bugs me. We almost had a fight once!

Now I gave up since my floor is always dirty because of the dog....

Corie said...

In my mom's hundred year old farmhouse the floors are so chilly that shoes in winter at least are a must, but I usually set aside a pair of comfy shoes to be my "indoor shoes". I confess I will sometimes run out to get the mail or something while wearing them, but usually I prefer a seperation of indoor and outdoor footwear. In Korea I always took off my shoes, though I did once horrify my Korean boyfriend by leaving my boots on and walking across the floor to get something I'd forgotten when we were on our way out the door. If only all shoes were an easy slip on, slip off!

mina said...

I think we're soul mates. I get irrationally angry when I see television shows promoting "outdoor shoe" wearing, indoors. It is revolting!!

It's been incredibly difficult with all the hotels because all I can think about is all the people who have walked through with shoes, so I've had to develop an obsessive compulsive routine involving "hotel only" socks. It's sick.

Tee, Passports and Postcards said...

It's customary to take off shoes in Thailand too. When I was in college, I was such a shoe police to my roommates- they were tracking in dirt!

Nicole Marie said...

ever since my little sister was born we were never allowed to wear shoes indoors. at my parents house we can't even walk into the house with our shoes, we have to leave them in the garage. in my apartment i keep my shoes in my closet to i walk to my room and immediately take off my shoes. i think they're so uncomfortable!

Existential in Japan said...

I'm American, but my family always took their shoes off when coming inside the house- so I've never felt comfortable wearing shoes inside the house/on carpet. It just feels wrong/dirty!

That being said- sometimes it did throw me off to have to take my shoes off at restaurants/public schools in Japan. That still takes some getting used to :)

thevoyageofv said...

Ugh, the idea of wearing outdoor shoes in the house is so disgusting! In Sweden you NEVER do it, and growing up in the U.S. we never did it either. People spit on the street, throw cigarette butts, dogs do their business... Why would anyone want to drags that into the home?