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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Shoes off please..

An entry way into a home
Shoes are never worn inside a Japanese house but removed at the entry way. This area of the home is called “genkan” and is found in all houses, apartments and many public buildings and schools. It is a combination of a porch and a doormat. This area is used for removing your shoes prior to entering the main part of the house. The floor in this area may be dirt, tile or concrete. It is often lower than the rest of the house, allowing you to step up into the home once shoes are removed.

Shoes are always left in this entry area. In a home there is generally a shoe closet close by for additional pairs. When removing your shoes in the home, you place your shoes with the heel against the step and your toes pointing towards the door. This is done so your shoes can be easily stepped into again when leaving the home (having shoes you can step into and off out in Japan is a bonus!). You never step or stand on the genkan or entry area with just your socks or bare feet. This is consider rude and would bring dirt into the home. Once shoes are removed, slippers are wore in the home except in rooms that have tatami mats in them or when using the toilet room. In the toilet room you remove your house slippers and put on the toilet slippers.

Entry into a public building
Shoes are often also removed in many public buildings and schools. When visiting the public recreational center the other day, we removed our shoes prior to entering the main building, leaving them in some cubbyholes at the entrance way. Shoes are removed in schools and exchanged for inside shoes. The removal of shoes in the home cuts down on dirt coming into the home or business.

When visiting or going to a Japanese home, you would never enter a the home without first ringing the door bell and being invited in. Door bells in Japan at not at the front door but on the front gate and wall. Most homes have a wall and a gate around the outside, making the main front door inaccessible without first entering the private yard area. At the gate there is a door bell that when rung, activates a camera inside the house. This whay those inside can not only talk to you but also see you. Prior to entering, you would wait for a response and the invited in.


Door bell on outside gate


Japan is a very formal society with expressions of welcoming used when entering and leaving a home. When you enter a home you say, “tadaimai” which means “I'm home” and those in the home would respond by saying “Okaerinasai” meaning “welcome back”. On leaving the house you say “Itti kimasu, meaning “I'm going now” and those in the home would say “itte rasshai” in response saying “have a good day”.
Video screen in the home

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