Many non-native Japanese are already quite familiar with the unspoken house rule of leaving shoes on the “genkan” either to wear house slippers or go barefoot inside the house. The primary reason for this is keep the inside of the house clean and free from dirt that is usually found on shoes. The genkan is an area where the shoes are to be left and exchanged for the provided house slippers. Outdoor shoes must be turned around facing the door upon removing them.
Visitors who expect to enter a Japanese house are advised to wear socks because of this house rule of leaving shoes behind. It probably goes without saying that is best to wear those in good condition since it can be very embarrassing to be going around the house with holes on socks. The slippers that have been provided are to be worn in all areas except for those with mats and in the bathroom.
It is a must to remove the slippers when entering rooms with tatami mats or the traditional woven mats used in Japanese houses. Visitors are expected to proceed in these rooms either with socks or barefoot. A different pair of slippers is provided for bathroom use. These slippers should never be used in other parts of the house as this is considered very unsanitary. After using the bathroom, visitors must once again wear the house slippers they were provided upon entering the home.
An invitation to visit a Japanese home is deemed an honor although most Japanese consider their homes too humble to receive guests. This custom of not wearing shoes inside the house is primarily for hygienic purposes only and is not to be construed for anything else. Some visitors make the mistake of going barefoot outside for a while to get something and then coming back into the house with dirty feet. Obviously, the purpose of removing shoes before entering the house is defeated.
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Posted October 22nd, 2012 by Teresa Martinez+ | Comment (0)