Comics: You can’t wear your shoes inside the house in Japan

YB_4_15 japan comic comics cartoon texan in tokyo slipper putting on shoes quickly

Perhaps I just like to make fun of myself.

At this point, though, I’ve been in Japan for so long I can’t actually imagine wearing my shoes inside the house (heaven knows what will happen when/if Ryosuke and I decide to live in America).

Like, wearing your shoes inside the house tracks in dirt – right?

Isn’t that a problem?

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My Japanese Husband Thinks I’m Crazy: The Comic Book

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My Japanese Husband (still) Thinks I’m Crazy

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Confessions of a Texan in Tokyo

About Grace Buchele Mineta

I got into the writing business by accident. Now I live in the countryside near Tokyo with my husband, Ryosuke, where I draw comics, blog, and make videos about our daily life. Contact: Website | More Posts

29 Comments on Comics: You can’t wear your shoes inside the house in Japan

  1. Millenniumabyss // 3 September, 2015 at 1:06 pm //

    I never knew people wore shoes in houses until I went South. I’m from Maryland. All the houses around for the most part have a mudroom where we abandon shoes before entering. I think in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S that removing shoes is more common because we get tons of rain in the spring/summer/fall and a good amount of ice storms in the winter. I joke that Maryland-ers are bog people, but that’s not too far from the truth. The entire state is a pretty much a rain basin for the bay. Nobody wants the mud and salt-slush from said bog tracked of their house!
    I remember when I went to Japan, my Japanese friend told me that Japanese people remove their shoes before going into a house. I blinked at her like she had just told me the sky was blue and said “Americans do too.” I’m not sure which one of us was more confused or surprised. I was much younger and didn’t know other regions of the U.S had this practice!
    The only thing that was really different in regard to shoes for me is that it is a very strict rule that you can’t wear shoes in the house in Japan. At least around here, in cases where you’ve forgotten something and are running late, you can usually be forgiven if you skip shoe removal to run back inside quickly. Not so in Japan…It can be really obnoxious when you’re in a hurry! I took to wearing shoes that could be easily slipped on and off when I was there. Mostly because I have the memory of a squirrel and sometimes would have to run back inside once or twice when I had forgotten something. :)

  2. I’m Canadian and growing up we always took our shoes off in the house, but I did have some friends who thought that was weird. It’s very mixed. I think a lot of it depends on whether or not you have carpet, I can’t imagine wearing outdoor shoes on a carpet! Ew!

    My husband is from New England, he grew up on a farm, and his family would leave their shoes on (unless they were muddy) during most of the day, but would usually take them of if they were sitting down to watch tv or read or what not. Mostly just a comfort thing.

  3. I’ve lived in the Midwest (US) my whole life. I didn’t know Americans outside of tv shows wore shoes in the house until i was about 17. It seems so dirty and weird to me. We also took them off at the door and still do.

  4. Louise in Dallas // 14 July, 2015 at 4:45 am //

    I enjoy reading these comments. I’m a Texan married to an Oklahoman. My husband wears boots and only cowboy boots (not ropers) as his footwear. You are not going to get these off his feet unless he is in bed or a coffin. I usually kick off my shoes when I get home but it’s akin to taking off my bra after a long day and being in a housecoat. I’d never answer the door without first finding my shoes. The idea that someone would be asked to take off their shoes in my home is strange. I’d never ask them to take off their shirt or pants. I don’t want to look at their feet or socks.

  5. Growing up in Midwest US my family never took off their shoes. Putting on shoes was part of getting dressed and then I didn’t take them off until bedtime. You don’t know about any other way until you are getting out in the world. It’s gross to say but I used to have very stinky feet. Then I started to take my shoes off using only socks or barefoot indoors and my stinky feet went away. More than that it, feels more relaxing to get home and take off shoes.

  6. As a Russian person we’re taught from day 1 to always take off your shoes so it’s not just a Japanese thing. When people come into my house and don’t take their shoes off I start to rage lol

  7. Linda Classen (Auntie Linda) // 11 July, 2015 at 2:16 am //

    Born, raised and living in Texas I’m not about to take my shoes off in the house. We have scorpions here! If someone asked me to do that, I would feel insulted (my shoes aren’t dirty) and decline. Central Texas is not Asia.

  8. Richard // 10 July, 2015 at 8:45 pm //

    When I was a kid growing up in Michigan, I used to take off my shoes at home all the time. It felt so much more relaxing NOT to wear shoes at home after being out and about with them on! So, doing it in Japan came as second nature to me….I loved it. But I must agree that I was never as fast at putting my shoes back on as the Japanese were. They kept their shoelaces tied and simply slipped in/out of their shoes!

    Being married to a Japanese woman means we continue the habit here…no shoes inside our home! We generally ask guests to take off their shoes, too. They typically accommodate our request very readily.

  9. I wear toe-shoes, which it turns out are really inconvenient for getting on and off quickly. Oh well, I love my toe-shoes too much to change.

  10. It’s similar here in the Philippines, especially of it’s a house with a traditional Filipino family. We usually have a shoe rack just outside the door/doorway leading to the house and we leave our outdoor shoes there :) Then we have slippers that we use at home.

    Not everyone does this anymore here but I love doing it because it keeps the inside of the house clean ;)

    Pam / http://organizedbypam.com

  11. If our shoes were super dirty we usually take them off in the house back home. Otherwise, now a’days I complain to my mom about putting on her shoes on her bed (on Skype).

    I do wish apartments had bigger 玄関s though. Because for those really annoying shoes to lace up, I always have to give myself a bunch of extra time before leaving to tie them properlly–and hope I didn’t forget something so I don’t have to go back in and pretend like I don’t live in Japan as I tiptoe to go back and get it.

  12. I hate wearing shoes, so I’ve always taken mine off as soon as I could! My parents keep their shoes on and walk to their bedroom to take their shoes off, and that is so inherently weird to me.
    I used to wear tall, lace-up boots. That’s always fun to make my (mostly male, mostly sneakers-wearing) friends wait for!
    “Just… ten…more…hooks…”

    It bothers me when people leave their shoes on in my house, but I never know how to tell them!

    • Just post a sign at the door saying ” Please remove shoes before entering”. The sign can be well made so as not to look tacky. I’ve seen this countless times and it’s not offensive.

  13. Usually only some maintenance peeps wear shoes inside inthe countries I have lived in due to security reason. Normal visitor take them off usually..only in China I have been in a few households were they wore shoes inside but the apartment looked like hell anyways :)

  14. Never wore shoes inside, never will :p I don’t know why, I think it’s unhygienic, I’ve been raised like this, and my house is cleaner this way too ;)
    Only down side, my inner voice when a visitor comes in with his shoes on :/ I just can’t say anything, I don’t want to be annoying :p

  15. I live in Italy and quite a few people do take their shoes off before entering a house, too :) in addition, I’ve lived in Australia, Czech Republic and Slovak Republic for a little time, and they do it also! Also, a Polish friend and an Albanian friend’s family do it too… it’s much more hygienic and I think that staying barefoot with only socks is also more comfortable :) yay for slippers!

  16. My husband is also from Japan and I’m from the States. We live in the US and remove our shoes when we enter our house. We prefer our guests do the same, but some aren’t comfortable with it so we aren’t sticklers about it. I just joke and say they need to remove one shoe and leave the other at the door ;) We’ve been together 10 years in November. Big hugs to you. Teppei and I wish you and your hubby many happy years :)

  17. Anonymous // 10 July, 2015 at 12:44 am //

    That’s me, too! Everybody politely waits while I struggle to get my shoes back on, & the faster I try to do so, the longer it takes! ;-)

  18. In New England in the winter/ spring, everyone takes off their shoes and leaves them in the aptly named mudroom.

    There are so many Asians in our area of LA that people actually apologize to me when they forget to take their shoes off at the door.

  19. Lolol. Same I can’t stand my dad keep wearing his shoes indoors ..sighhh. but I can never have a smooth slip on my shoe. Haha

  20. It’s pretty common to take your shoes off inside houses in Germany as well, although some people ask before they take their shoes off if the host wants them to do so. But in the majority of households it’s taken for granted that you take them off. But it’s of course not as much of an affront to get your shoes into an inside space as in many Asian countries.

  21. Samantha // 9 July, 2015 at 11:26 pm //

    I’m from Chicago, and we have always taken our shoes off at the door in my family, and we ask guests to do the same. We usually just wear socks or slippers in the house. But most people I know don’t do that. When I go to a friend’s house and I ask where to put my shoes, I usually get strange looks. But you’re right; it does make sense. Keeps the floors cleaner(:

  22. jnishie // 9 July, 2015 at 11:20 pm //

    I am Japanese-American and I grew up not wearing shoes indoors. We were not allowed to wear shoes in the house. My mom used house slippers but my dad, my brother and I went barefoot. In my own married life, we sometimes wear shoes indoors but I married a Georgia boy, so in his family, they wear shoes indoors most of the time. I’m okay with that but most times we don’t wear shoes indoors.

  23. Eric Janson // 9 July, 2015 at 10:52 pm //

    Our house in Munich is shoes- free. Most guests are totally used to this and do it automatically. For guests from places not used to this we have guest slippers and since they are in a foreign country they adapt quickly…”When in Rome…”
    We also have the policy for our US house in Boulder. There we have many more who are not familiar with the concept. We offer them (especially workers in for repairs) guest slippers or the option to spread papers on the floor where they will walk with their street shoes. The reactions are surprising.

  24. The same in Korea.

  25. We always take of our shoes in our home but whenever we have visitors (even family visitors) we let them walk in with their shoes on. Its only in the winter when every visitor takes off their shoes.

  26. Oh man. This comic is me. Every time!

  27. Heck, I live in Canada and the only time someone wears their shoes in my house is when there’s a visitor who doesn’t know better, or they’re doing repairs or something. Keeps floors cleaner, gives a more relaxed comfortable feel, and just generally makes sense.

    But then, I’ve been to other houses where I ask if I should leave my shoes at the door, and they look at me like I’ve just grown a second head. Apparently I’m just the weird one here. :p

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