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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Japan Tours and Life Style

Footwear practices in Japan-Things to Strictly Avoid in Japan

It is widely accepted that it is customary in Japan to remove one’s shoes before entering a residence. However, there is additional depth to the practise that you should be aware of before embarking on your vacation to Japan.

Any custom, no matter where it develops, usually has a purpose. Yes, the Japanese are notoriously conscientious about cleanliness, but removing one’s shoes indoors demonstrates fundamental practicality. Consider a period when modest, traditional Japanese dwellings with tatami bamboo floor mats were the norm. Tatami mats are not only pricey, but they also retain dirt and are difficult to clean, thus it stands to reason that people will no longer wear shoes indoors. Furthermore, people often ate their meals while sitting on the floor, so it seems to reason that they wouldn’t want their dirty shoes near their food.

From nce to the present, more practises accumulated along the way. But the plain fact is that no matter where you travel in Japan, you’ll be aware of when and when you’re required to remove your shoes and replace them with slippers. No home, hotel room, restaurant, or other establishments that demands shoe removal is designed with this practise in mind.

First and foremost: Plan ahead of time for your vacation now that you know Japanese custom requires good shoe etiquette. Bring no heavy or too complicated footwear that requires time or labour to take on and off. Maintain a straightforward approach. Oh, and make sure your socks don’t have any holes in them because a lot of people will be looking at your feet.

The Genkan


footwear in japan


The barrier between inside and outside for footwear reasons is not the door itself, but the entrance area known as genkan. The genkan is normally separated into two sections: the lower part where people remove and place their shoes, and the elevated portion, which is usually covered by a different type of flooring and marks the start of the interior living space. Don’t walk onto the high area in your outside shoes. Similarly, when removing your shoes, avoid treading on the genkan’s lower region when wearing socks. Finally, after removing your shoes, it is regarded as proper etiquette to point them towards the entrance.

When visiting a lot of historic buildings, it may be a good idea for tourists to wear shoes that can be readily removed, as you may be required to take them off and put them on numerous times throughout the day. Also, make sure your socks are nice and free of holes. Wet umbrellas and raincoats should be left outside or at the entry during rainy weather, or placed in plastic bags to keep water from soaking inside.


The Slipper Etiquette


footwear in japan


The host will supply slippers. If you are not wearing socks, it is courteous to bring a fresh pair of socks to wear after removing your outdoor shoes, as entering someone’s home barefoot is not regarded as highly mannered, albeit acceptable in informal contexts. Slippers can be worn almost anyplace indoors, save in rooms with tatami floors. Before walking onto the tatami, take off your footwear and lay them neatly outside the tatami chamber.

Separate toilet slippers are frequently offered for use inside restrooms. When using the restroom, ordinary slippers are placed outside the door. Don’t forget to take off your toilet slippers after using them, which is a common blunder among international travellers.


Going In And Out of Home

Most houses have a genkan, or an entrance area right inside the front door, which is likely to be a tiny step below the main area and created with a different floor colour or material. In general, think of the genkan as if it were outside. Slippers are most likely to be found on the upper level, inside the house, and above the genkan. Step right out of your shoes and into your slippers.

Place your shoes in the shoe cubby if one exists. If there isn’t one and you notice other people’s shoes lined up on the floor, simply follow suit. You’ll see that the shoes are pointing toward the door, as is customary, but also for ease of transitioning from the slippers into your shoes in the genkan on your way out.


Bed, Bath and Beyond

Slippers aren’t normally worn on tatami mats once inside a home, especially if you’re staying overnight as a guest – socks or bare feet are preferred, as the mats are frequently found in bedrooms. So be aware about when and where you stroll in slippers.

footwear in japan
A change of slippers is also likely to be found between living space and a bathroom, with a separate set inside and a tiny wooden platform on which to stand to replace slippers. You get the idea: why wear the same slippers around the home as you would in the bathroom?


Out in the Town

When you’re out and about, simple attentiveness is essential.

Some restaurants require shoe removal and supply slippers, while others do not.

Restaurants that require shoe removal usually include a genkan as well as a bench where you can sit and remove your shoes. They’ll also supply slippers. Because the slippers are worn by other diners, it’s not uncommon for women to bring a pair of shoe liners with them so their thin stockings or bare feet don’t come into contact with the slippers. You are also welcome to bring your own set.

When it comes to hotels, ryokans (traditional Japanese inns) usually require you to remove your shoes at the entryway. Visits to shrines and temples may necessitate removing your shoes and donning a pair of provided slippers. Carpeted changing rooms at clothes retailers may require you to remove your shoes as well. Are you stumped as to what to do? Simply glance around and follow the herd.

When it comes to shoe etiquette in Japan, the easiest and greatest advise to follow is to use your eyes more than your feet. Take note of the customs observed by people in the know, and just follow suit. If you can do that, you won’t have to worry about making mistakes.


Places Where You should Remove your Shoes

Even while the Japanese enjoy taking off their shoes, you are not required to do so in every location you visit in Japan. I’ll list the most typical sites where you’ll have to remove your shoes so you may be prepared before your trip.

The following are the most prevalent sites in Japan where you will be required to remove your shoes:


  • A person’s home: There is frequently a level difference at the entryway. It is a huge honour to be invited into a Japanese person’s home. People in Japan value cleanliness and take great care to make their homes spotless. This means that the dirt on your shoes should not contaminate their home. As a result, it is normal to remove your shoes and typically wear the offered slippers.

In more casual settings, such as a Japanese home, you may simply go around in socks. Slippers are often offered in places of business to make you feel more comfortable and to create a more official ambiance.

footwear in japan
  • Shrines and temples on the inside: When it comes to Japanese temples and shrines, you can assume that this regulation is strongly followed when an event is held inside one of these distinctive places. Because of the scenario around COVID-19, live activities with a high number of attendees are now avoided. It is, however, something to keep in mind for the near future when travel to Japan becomes accessible again, or while planning an event at a Japanese temple. In Japan, a place of worship is considered sacred, hence you must remove your shoes before entering. When you enter a Japanese temple, you’ll notice shelves beside the doors where you can leave your shoes, or tote bags where you can carry your shoes.

It is not commonplace in Japanese culture and tradition for an event to be held at a temple, shrine, or even a historical location. If this is the case, it is traditional to leave your shoes at the entrance and enter with socks or slippers if provided. You may feel uncomfortable going about shoeless at a formal corporate function as a visitor who is not accustomed to this tradition, but remember that it is a symbol of utmost respect and will be appreciated by those around you. Also, you won’t have to worry about losing your shoes or getting them mixed up with someone else’s because our event management team will keep your shoes safe and return them to you when you exit the venue.

  • Rooms for Tea Ceremony.
  • Sento (Japanese hot springs) and onsen (public baths).
  • Some traditional stores.
  • Restaurants with low tables are considered traditional: There is also a change in level near the entryway.

Correct Way of Taking Off your Shoes

Now that you know when to take your shoes off in Japan, let’s move on to the next challenge: how to take your shoes off. There is a very Japanese method of dealing with all of this shoe business, and even something as basic as taking off your shoes can be a big struggle in Japan. I’ll describe the proper technique briefly, but if you prefer visual explanations, you can skip ahead to the next video. It will show you what you should and should not do.

As previously stated, the genkan area can be found after passing through the entrance door. This section is designed for removing your shoes (as well as putting them back on when you leave). When removing your shoes, never let your feet or socks touch the genkan floor. Instead, proceed to the next level and, if accessible, put on your slippers (otherwise just enter with your socks or barefoot). Before entering, twist your shoes so that they face the door, which will be very useful when you depart.

After your visit, you should put your shoes back on using the same method. Remove the slippers and return them to their original location. If they’re lying on the ground, twist them for the next person (facing the inside, not the front door). To avoid falling when putting on your shoes, you can sit on the step. Also, avoid putting your socks on the genkan floor because they will get soiled. This can be humiliating if you go to see someone right away without changing your socks.

If I could give you one bit of travel advise, make sure you always have clean socks in Japan because you’ll be taking your shoes off a lot. Also, before you travel, make sure there are no holes in it. To be safe, it is essential to get fresh socks for your trip.

Traveling to Japan may be on hold for the time being, but many people are looking forward to the day when travel restrictions are lifted. When you return, you may spend a significant amount of time in Japan without your shoes, so make sure you wear decent socks! Pack a lot of clean, matching socks with no holes that will make you look professional when you take off your shoes. It’s also a good idea to wear shoes that are easy to put on and off during your visit, since this will make your journey as easy as possible.

While online events are currently the norm, we hope to see a revival of live events in the coming year, and we look forward to supporting your activities here in Japan. In the meanwhile, please contact us if you have any questions concerning online, virtual, or hybrid events, or about your post-COVID plans in Japan.

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