The shoe-place

The shoe-place

Written by sonicsuns

Topics: Everything, Tips

If you’ve ever been to an Asian person’s house, there’s a good chance you were asked to take off your shoes as you entered. I’m not sure why this tradition started, but it is what it is. Here’s how it works in Japan:
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/Almost every spot you can possibly stand on belongs to one of two categories: “inside” and “outside”.
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/I have to put quotes around those because they’re not literal. There are “outside” places that are literally indoors. (I’m not sure if the reverse is ever true.)
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/Generally,
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  • Space inside a private home is “inside”.
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  • Space which is literally outside is “outside”.
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  • Space inside a middle school or elementary school is “inside”.
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  • Space inside a college is “outside”.
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  • Space in a place of business (like a conbini or restaurant) is “outside” (even though, technically, you’re indoors).
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/There are some exceptions. For instance, the cafeteria at hitotsubashi is “outside”, but the rec room right next to the cafeteria is “inside”, for no obvious reason. And there have been times (like for a party), when the rec room temporarily became “outside”.
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/The best way to know the boundary is to look for a shoe-place.
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/You see, the whole idea is that whatever touches the ground “outside” should not touch the ground “inside”, and vice versa. So the entrance to every home contains a shoe-place, which is where you stand when you remove your normal shoes. You might just leave your shoes on the ground, and/or there may also be cubbyholes where you can store your shoes while you’re wearing slippers (and vice-versa).
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Cubbyholes at hitotsubashi. (But you're also allowed to just throw your shoes on the floor, as you see in the lower-left)


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Cubbyhole-cabinet where I live


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/For the place where you live, you’ll probably have your own personal slippers. For when you’re a guest, guest slippers will be provided:
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/The edges of the shoe-place are typically marked by a change of elevation:
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/Alternatively, there may just be a line of tape on the ground:
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The line of tape is (barely) visible in the lower-right


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  • DMT

    So, do you know of any good places to buy slippers?/
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    /Also, I have heard that you need another pair of slippers for the bathroom/restroom/toilet/W.C. (am I forgetting any?), this pair usually being rubber or plastic. Ever experience that?

    • Hm…my slippers were provided for me, so I’m not sure where to buy them. Can’t be all that hard to find, though./
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      /Yeah, I’ve heard of the bathroom-slippers thing. I didn’t encounter it personally, but maybe I’ll add it to the post.

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