Pepi in Wonderland: I lost my shoe

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Yay! Another chapter of Pepi in Wonderland! Today, I lost my show. Well, not exactly like that. In fact: I lost my shoes. How? Imagine a world in which every single time you step in and out your home, your friend’s home, your boyfriend’s home, a restaurant, a coffee shop or the Neko Café you love, you need to take off your shoes, then put them on again, then take them off again, and then repeat the whole thing zillions of times. And before you know it, you don’t want to go shopping any more shoes ever again! Where can this shoe-on shoe-off be so important that requires that your feet smell like roses and not like cheese? You got it! Japan!

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The shoe business is not going shopping fifty pairs of gorgeous Jimmy Choos, but knowing when to take off your shoes and not kill people because of it. Guys, you better be nice with your feet in Japan. If they smell like Nordic cheese, you’re bound to failure. Shoes are taken off before entering homes, toilets, some restaurants, izakayas, schools and Japanese-styled hotels. Why? Because everything is spotless if you change your shoes. Losing your shoes because of making things tidy is a good reason to bother about such a shoe nightmare.

While Canadians are up for the taking-off shoe business, Europeans and Americans might not be so eager to jump into it. As a spoiled Girl of the West (I know, it sounds very much like a famous Witch), I arrived in Japan without any cultural pattern in the shoe business. At home, we would step into our shoes up to our bedrooms and there we would put on our sleepers. Mediterranean shores can be challenging. Despite having a shoe box at the entrance, most people would just come in without changing their shoes. Now, start how many times a week you need to clean that floor.

However, Japanese keep their homes clean by leaving their shoes on the entrance, thus minimizing a number of times you need to clean the floor. So guess who imported this custom back home? Exactly! Yours Truly! For the sake of keeping my home clean and my feet comfy as soon as possible, all shoes have to be lost on the entrace before entering the wonderful realms of my home. Don’t worry: I have spare sleepers as Japanese do.

However, there is a certain etiquette on how to take off your shoes and put on your sleepers in Japan. I didn’t import that, however, I consider that changing the shoes before entering a home is paramount. Not only the floor is cleaner and shinny, but you also keep the nasty invisible things that might have been attached under your shoes!

Though it might seem bothersome for some, this is a great cultural custom to mix with the ones you have. Like this awesome Michael Jackson cover by Yoshimi Tsujimoto. Enjoy!

About pepi

A Geek Girl interested in Geek Anthropology, comic books, books, Superheroes and discovering all about pop culture.

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  • We take our shoes off at our place, partly because we live on the 3rd floor of an apartment and partly because I think it’s super gross to have people’s dirty shoes on my floor. Eew.

    • Yeah: eeeew! But you will notice that in most Mediterranean homes… So… well…. hmmmm. I love Japan 😉 Yay! Happy to have copied cool & useful customs 😀

  • It might be the Filipino thing with my husband. We take off our shoes as soon as we reach the door in our garage. The biggest reason for us now is because we have so much sand on our shoes, it is to keep it clean in out house. In Hawaii it is very, very common to remove your shoes before you come into someone’s house. I think the big influence of Japan here might have something to do with it. Although, no one wears slippers indoors because it’s so hot. We also have shoes for just out in the yard. It’s not uncommon to visit a friend’s house and see a whole host of shoes outside their front door.

    • Oh I didn’t know that in Hawaii there was the same custom! And yeah, it makes sense, maybe Japanese brought it there? Anyway, its a good thing to do. 🙂

      • Yep, yep. 🙂 Although, it’s not common to wear slippers in the house here. It is a great thing to do keeps my cleaning down.

  • This is super helpful! I knew that it’s customary to take off your shoes in Japan but I didn’t know about the slippers:P That’s awesome that you have guests remove their shoes at your home too. Would definitely help keep the house clean!

    • Thank you! Yeah, they have extra sleepers for friends that might visit home. So, I copied that too LOL It helps in keeping the house clean, and it’s comfy. (I like walking in sleepers :p )

  • Kay

    We do this with our apartment – it just makes the most sense! We have a shoe area in the entrance for it. I find it more comfortable to be without shoes, and it definitely keeps the floors cleaner!

    • Yup, that’s the best way to do. Plus sleepers are super comfy 😉