Do I have to take off shoes if I have been invited to a Japanese house? The manner at the entrance of a Japanese house you want to know.
This post is also available in 日本語
The one thing that foreigners will be surprised in lifestyle habit of Japanese is to take off and put on shoes. People who were born in countries, where people do not take off shoes might be confused. This time, we will introduce the manners of how to take off shoes at the entrance of house when you go to a Japanese house.
Japanese houses are “No shoes allowed.”
There is a space called “Genkan,” when opening a front door in a Japanese house. “Genkan” means main entrance of house. In most of Japanese houses, you must take off your shoes in this Genkan before you come inside houses.
Japanese people consider that the house means not “come in.” but “Step on.”
The reason is that Genkan space in Japanese house is basically same height as the ground of outside, and then the floor inside house is one step higher than Genkan space. Japanese houses are “No shoes allowed.” When you visit a Japanese house, you must remember that you must take off your shoes in Genkan.
The manner at Genkan when you visit a Japanese house and how to take off and put on shoes.
So, how should you do when you actually visit to a Japanese house? Even it is said that you must take off shoes, you do not have only to take off shoes. You have only to be conscious of the manner at Genkan, Japanese people tend to respect you more than you expect.
The manner at Genkan when you step on a house.
- You should ring a doorbell at the beginning when you come in front of house. Most of doors of Japanese houses tend to open to the outside, so you should not stand right front of a door.
- If people living in that house open the door, you must say “Hello, how are you?” or “Thank you so much,” and come inside.
- You close the door and walk to the place of the one step higher, and then you take off shoes and step on a floor. If people living in that house prepare slippers, you should wear slippers.
- You should turned around diagonally while trying not to show your back, kneel, and put shoes together while facing toes to the door, and then put shoes on the side “the bottom seat.”
The manner at Genkan when you leave.
- You should walk straight to the door of Genkan, take off slippers and put your shoes on.
- After you wear your shoes, you should turn around and put slippers together while facing toes of slippers to the opposite way of the door of Genkan.
- You should say “Thank you for everything” or “See you later” to people living in that house.
Three advises to avoid being flustered.
You might get confused at the beginning, but it is not so difficult to do that once you get used to it. However, a beginner should remember next three things in order to avoid being flustered.
You should not select the shoes that take you lots of time to put on and take off.
Boots or shoes that is high-cut and lace-up, and sandals winding a string to the ankle will not be recommended to beginners because these kinds shoes tend to take lots of time to put on and take off. You had better to select shoes that you can easily take off and put on at Genkan. It is ideal shoes that you do not need to tie, take off and put on easily.
You had better to wear neat shoes.
You had better to wear socks and stockings because many Japanese people tend to consider that it is rude to step on somebody’s house with barefoot. However, even it is better to wear socks; of course you do not have to wear socks with holes or socks you have been wearing for few days. You should wear neat socks when you visit a Japanese house.
You learn how to distinguish between the top seat and the bottom seat.
You put shoes that you take off together and toes face to the door of Genkan. It is said that you had better to put your shoes on the side of Genkan “the bottom seat,” but where is the bottom seat?
It is sure that the bottom seat is not the center. Actually, even many Japanese people do not know if the bottom seat is right side or left side.
Where the bottom seat and the top seat are will often be considered when siting on a table. Actually, shoe rack will be the criteria of judgement in Genkan.
If there is a flower arrangement or a picture stand etc. a shoe rack has been used as a display shelf, the shoe rack side must be the top seat. You must put your shoes together on the other side of the shoe rack. Shoes must be far from the shoe rack.
If there is no anything on a shoe rack, the side of shoe rack must be the bottom seat, and then you should put your shoes on the shoe rack side.
The important thing is to organize and not to show your back to an owner of a house.
How is it?
We have introduced manners and the right way to take off and put on shoes at Genkan when you are invited to a Japanese house.
There are two important points in manners at Genkan.
The first thing is not to show your back to an owner of a house. It is rude to show your back to someone. If it is someone who is older than you, it will be so rude.
The second is that you have to put shoes together. It is natural that children in kindergarten will be strictly trained to put shoe together neatly.
It is fine to lean small things about Japanese culture little by little. But as long as you remember these two things at first, you will be definitely ok visit to a Japanese house.
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