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Entering a home... 2008/2/1 09:30
This is a weird question, but I was wondering if there is anything else to do after entering a Japanese home. I read a manga and the characters took of their shoes and then went to rinse their mouths. I know its just a comic, but it got me thinking. Is there anything I should do? In my own home, I'm planning to go study in Japan in the fall in a home stay, and I really don't want to offend.

by Monique  

Customs 2008/2/1 12:45

I can't think of anything special you need to do or worry about other than taking off your shoes at the entrance.
I have heard of people who gargle after coming in from outside in winter - supposedly as a way of preventing colds - but I don't think this is very widespread. And anyway, you wouldn't do it when entering someone else's house. Just washing one's hands is a sensible habit though.
by Dave in Saitama rate this post as useful

. 2008/2/1 14:30
As Dave mentioned, you only need to remove your shoes at the entrace, nothing else.

At least in my childhood it was a "must" to wash one's hands when one comes home and in many families to gargle as well (again as Dave mentioned gargling is to prevent colds and washing hands is for both preventing colds and hygine).
Maybe you might be asked if you want to wash your hands, but I don't think people would impose gargle to their guests (unless the guests asked themselves).

When watching western drama on TV or films, I was shocked that people just come home and go directly to the table and start eathing without washing hands, but maybe it is just because they are drama/film, i.e. details in real life is omitetd...?! :)
(Sorry this part is not an answer to the OP but just one of the mysteries I've wondering for years.)
by . rate this post as useful

just worry about the shoes 2008/2/1 15:09
You don't gargle at someone else's home.

You are raised to always wash your hands and gargle every time you come back to your OWN home. Medical specialists today still encourage you to do so in order to prevent serious influenza etc. for yourself and those living with you.

So all you have to worry about is to make sure you don't step on the floor with your shoes. The rest will be instructed to you by the host(ess) of the house such as your host mother.

But since you asked, you can keep in mind that it's polite to take your coat off before entering a home or an office. It implies that the place is "kept warm enough". On the contrary, in a lot of western countries it is more polite to keep your coat on unless you are asked to take it off. This implies that you don't want to take much of the host(ess)'s time.
by Uco rate this post as useful

thoughts 2008/2/1 16:31
In the western country I come from (New Zealand) it would be odd to keep your coat on unless it was known beforehand that you were only staying 10 minutes or less.
It would probably imply that you didn't feel comfortable there and that you thought the house was cold.

We definitely don't gargle when we get home but as children we were told to wash our hands. Somehow I've managed never to catch the flu in spite of not gargling... ;-)

My Japanese husband only gargles after brushing his teeth- I don't think I've seen (heard) him doing it when he gets home so he must have lost the habit at some point.
by Sira rate this post as useful

coat 2008/2/2 16:20
To clarify, as Sira mentioned, of course it would be odd to keep your coat on if you know you've been invited for tea or meals. But I do notice on western TV shows that when someone comes to the door on sudden notice, (s)he would often keep the coat on while (s)he finishes what he needs to say on the couch.

Also, I do believe that the proper procedure in western countries is that you go in with your coat on, and the host(ess) says "Let me get your coat." and THEN you take it off, while in Japan, you are to take off your coat BEFORE you enter the door, and the host(ess) says "Let me get your coat (in which you have already taken off)." But of course, in casual situations, not many people follow these manners strictly.

On a related note about gargling, It seems that whether I gargle or not I catch cold anyway. And some specialists say that you can drink something instead of gargling, so that's what I often do. I guess it drains the germs from your throat. By the way, I've been suffering a stomach ache lately.
by Uco rate this post as useful

in a home 2008/2/2 17:33
I was privileged to live/ work in several European countries countries (sent there by a company from my country of birth)and in all the countries and all the homes I visited it was the custom to take one's coat and shoes right in the entrance. Same in every place I have been in North America.
by Red Frog rate this post as useful

Right 2008/2/2 20:36
Red Frog, I'm pretty sure you kept your coat on until they told you they'll take it at the enterance. Thanks.
by Uco rate this post as useful

into a home 2008/2/3 05:07
I was trying to make things simple but the actual answer is yes and no.
1-if I was visiting the home of a person I knew well and who had invited me:
he/she would open the entrance door and I would enter. While we exchanged greetings I would take my coat (or overcoat, raining coat) and shoes off.
2-if I visiting the home of a client (when I worked for a builder):
he/she would would open the door,we would greet one another then he/she would ask me if he/she could put my coat away. while he/ she was doing that I would remove my shoes UNLESS their home was a mansion (in the European meaning)where the floors of the main floor rooms are in tiles and one doesn't remove shoes. BUT if I had to check later on their private rooms (bedrooms, den etc with wood floors) to measure them for planned renovations THEN I would remove my shoes when entering these rooms.

by Red Frog rate this post as useful

Red Frog 2008/2/3 13:41
Okay. Thank you.

In Japan the proper way is to have your coat off BEFORE YOU FACE the other party. When the other party sees you standing for the first time, you're already supposed to have your coat off. In other words, your coat is already off when you knock the door or ring the bell.

Btw, when leaving the place, you are not supposed to put your coat on until you either walk out the door or are insisted by the host(ess) to put it on.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Entering a home for the FIRST TIME ever 2008/2/9 15:47
It is polite to say "shitsurei shimasu" or "ojama shimasu"... literally, "sorry for the intrusion". :)
by Amy Eimii rate this post as useful

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