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Why do Japanese take their shoes off?

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Too many walls of text 2008/1/29 16:27
I'm Japanese, living in Hawaii. A lot of the cultures blend here, so white people here take off their shoes before going into their houses too. Pretty much everyone does. I think you guys are looking too much into this. It's just more clean and comfortable. Very simple.
by Akoiah rate this post as useful

are slippers ok to wear ? 2008/1/31 09:46
just out of curi as when I visit jpn I will take them with me.

As i wear trainers when i got out or whatever and then i alwasy wear slippers when i get back in the house

by Abhi rate this post as useful

DIRT! 2008/1/31 11:42
Tatami mats get dirty easily.
Even in Western houses do this. It is not so strange at least the North America unless you're raised in a biker gang where you sleep with your boots on.
by Jupiter Rising rate this post as useful

why wear shoes at home? 2008/2/8 14:15
I am american and we do not take our shoes off in our house. The floors are hard wood and old (splinters! -ouch) And we burn wood so there is a lot of dust and wood scraps lying around for a majority of the year.

I do know some Americans who remove their shoes indoors.

I live in Japan now and find no problem removing my shoes in my or other peoples apartments as I love tatami mats.

The only issues I have are at the schools where I work. I visit 3 schools and don't have enough house slippers to go around. The slippers they provide are one-size-fits-small and simply not wide enough for me to wear (men's 9 1/2 extra wide!) nor supportive enough of my feet. Years of working standing up have taken their toll on my feet. And then they also have bathroom slippers for the restroom. The older ladies look aghast at me when I wear my indoor shoes to the restroom, but I cannot wear the slippers there at all. Nor can I buy any here that fit.

If anyone has a good idea I'm all ears.

by lyra rate this post as useful

Shoes 2008/2/9 02:03
I lived in Japan in a small apartment and we liked taking off our shoes and almost couldn't do otherwise. The apartment had a small area inside the door that was recessed about 14 inches from the floor and had a shoe cabinet that opened onto it. This made it very convenient to take off shoes and store them away. Western style homes are not designed to do this. THATS the difference,The design. If western homes could incorporate design features into them that would encourage the removal of shoes that would be great. My larger gripe is bathrooms. our little apartment has a nice little closet for the toilet, and a small sink. It was NOT in the bath area. Western designers wake up. The John and the tub should not be in the same area. and it does not take a mansion to do this. As for shoes now at our home in America. We take off our shoes but there are exceptions. When we are comming in with an armload of groceries I will walk into the kitchen with them and then take my shoes off. Also eldery guests. We don't impose rules to older folks. Especially at holidays. If by example they take off there shoes as we do we thank them.
by Peter rate this post as useful

... 2008/2/9 08:38
Western style homes are not designed to do this.

Really? My parent's house back in "the West" is also designed in a way, so that shoes can be taken off in a hall at the entrance before entering the carpeted space.

As pointed out several times in this thread, this is not a Western vs. Japanese issue, especially not these days and because "the West" is made up of dozens of different cultures which cannot usually be lumped together into one unity.

by Uji rate this post as useful

Western cultures 2008/2/9 10:23
I agree with Uji about lumping all Western cultures together. Growing up in New Zealand, none of the houses I lived in had the toilet in the same room as the shower/bath- they were always separate.

I have also lived in small apartments in Japan with a "unit bath" meaning the toilet *is* in the same room as the shower/ bath.

by Sira rate this post as useful

why do japanese take of their shoes?? 2008/3/24 13:12
You will be expected to remove your shoes upon entering many Japanese buildings, including homes and even some English schools. The reason is more practical than traditional, since it helps to keep the inside clean. You may be provided with slippers, but they must not leave the house and they must be removed before walking on tatami mats.
by mee rate this post as useful

thanks 2008/3/24 19:57
Thank you Uji and Sira for bring some common sense to this thread!
by Monkey see rate this post as useful

English take their shoes off... 2008/3/25 00:08
I live in England, and it is also polite (and generally jsut done) to take your shoes off when going into someones house, even the owners leave their shoes of in-doors.
by danny rate this post as useful

I'm cool with it but... 2008/3/28 06:05
What happens if your dog gets dirty when they're outside?
by Lindsay rate this post as useful

question 2008/4/11 14:22
I understand the value of removing shoes inside the home. Although in my family we "generally" took our shoes off at the door, we never made a fuss if we briefly walked around in them for some reason like if we were making repeated trips back and forth. I would say the reason is 50/50 tradition and practicality as the practicality ends when going out of one's way to remove shoes when it is inconvenient and much more troublesome than simply excusing a brief walking on the carpet when needed. Also some specific things like making sure shoeless feet never touches the genkan and making sure to step properly out of the shoes. It is almost like that "don't step on the lava" game kids play. I also had a question about when one owns multiple shoes. Is it alright to bring the shoes inside to a closet or rack once inside? Or are they all kept near the genkan?
by Mira rate this post as useful

Bath / toilet in same room... 2008/7/9 06:22
I live in San Francisco and many of the older homes (pre-1910) have separate "water closets" (small room with only a sink and toilet) and a separate room for the bath / shower (and no toilet). Many newer homes have what is called a "half bathroom" which is a bathroom without a bath or shower and is usually there for guests to use, while the full bathrooms are located closer to where the bedrooms are at.

As for shoes in the house, I recently encountered a couple (I believe they are Japanese) that asked me to remove my shoes as I entered their apartment to look into some repairs. Naturally I removed them out of respect. However, I may have to enter their apartment later to do these repairs and some of the work would not seem safe without shoes on. Especially if a plumbing repair needs to be done to the bathtub... I really don't want to get my socks wet... Not to mention that the bathtub may have to be moved (claw foot style) and they are extremely heavy.

by Dan rate this post as useful

shoes 2008/7/9 07:33
Mira, most (newer) Japanese houses and apartments have a closet or cupboard in the entrance for all the shoes, thought I have seen houses where all the shoes the family owned were scattered all over the genkan. I had to walk on top of them to go further inside!
by Red Frog rate this post as useful

Young people 2008/7/14 02:18
This is one tradition that even the young people seem to follow without question. They may go without the indoor slippers, but they always take their shoes off when entering a home.
by Josh rate this post as useful

The reason japanese take off their shoes 2008/7/15 11:10
They take off their shoes because it shows a sign of respect when entering a home.
by ??? rate this post as useful

Many other people do the same. 2008/10/3 19:42
Come visit Canada and you'll see that almost everyone here takes off their shoes when they go to someones house or their own house ^^ i think its respect for the person who invited you o.o or respect for your own home or something like that
by Maha rate this post as useful

shoes off 2008/10/4 04:44
there is also the problem of the weather. I grew up in western Europe in an area where it rains buckets in winter and no one would dream of walking inside a home with wet muddy shoes. in school we removed them too and wore slippers. Same in Canada and other countries where there is a lot of snow in winter! Wearing shoes inside after walking in dirty snow?? no way!! Canadians even remove their wet muddy shoes in their office building (actually quite a few wear outer shoes--galoshes-- over the proper shoes.
by Red frog rate this post as useful

Not just a japanese thing 2008/10/4 11:41
Im chinese and we do the same - it's to keep the floor clean.
by bobo rate this post as useful

not only shoes ... 2008/10/4 19:23
In train, subways, or busses people stretch out their legs and put them on the opposite seat with their dirty shoes on. (Germany). This so dirty! Meanwhile, I have started to differentiate between home dresses and "outside clothing".
by mira08 rate this post as useful

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