The Japanese Home
Introducing unique architectural features and designs
influenced by Japanese culture.
Slipper Etiquette in a Japanese House
February 25. 2023
It is well known that Japanese people take their shoes off at the entrance.
So, do all Japanese people go barefoot indoors?
What is the etiquette for slippers in Japanese houses?
Take your shoes off at the entrance, then what?
A Japanese entrance normally has a small space by a front door, and there is a small step followed by a hallway.
Shoes are taken off in the low space before this small step.
In many cases, there are shoe boxes at the entrance, but most of the time those are for family use. It is better not to use it without permission.
It is best to keep your own shoes were taken off and arrange them with the toes facing the front door.
You may see indoor slippers being prepared for you.
If you were told by the host to wear those, you should wear those.
Do not use slippers which are still the slipper stand without permission.
If you don’t see slippers for you to wear, you may assume that you do not have to wear slippers indoors.
Where you need to take the slipper off.
Even if you are being in a Japanese house, there may be places where you need to take off your slippers.
Pay attention to the places below.
Slippers are definitely not allowed on tatami mats.
Slippers must be removed before entering a tatami room.
■ Sitting on the floor area
In Japanese houses, if there are no sofas or other chairs, but only a low table, it will be sitting on the floor area.
In such rooms, slippers must be removed before entering the center rug around the low table.
Special slippers for toilet use are normally provided in Japanese houses.
Even if you are wearing indoor slippers, you must change into these special slippers when you use the toilet.
Special slippers that are designed for toilet use are sold in retail stores.
Removing your shoes facilities
In Japan, there are places other than residences where you must take off shoes and change into slippers.
You can tell if you need to take your shoes off or not by following:
▪There are steps where shoes should be removed.
▪Shoe boxes are placed by the entrance.
▪Slippers are provided for indoor use.
■ Private medical clinics
■ Japanese Inns
■ Hot spring facilities
In many cases, outdoor footwear is also prohibited in nurseries, and school buildings.
When entering a school building, children change into indoor footwear specially designed for school use, known as ‘Uwabaki’.
Taking your shoes off inside a house sounds simple, but in reality, Japanese Indoor Etiquette is pretty complicated for some visitors.
Removing and Changing footwear frequently is quite a hassle, but it is highly effective in keeping the room clean.