Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Infloors and Outfloors

Hi guys, sorry about the gap in posts. I've been doing some research and I can now reveal the results of my work to you.
Ever thought about the floor much? Me neither. For sockmonkeys, the floor is where your nuts and bananas go when you drop them. If you are from a 'developed' country you can tell if you are indoors because you clean with a vacuum cleaner, or outdoors because you use a leaf blower. In Japan things are a little different.
Outdoors is where you wear shoes. So far so good. Indoors is where you wear 'house slippers'. These are usually tartan or have a cute puppy image on them. So you wander around the house in house slippers and suddenly you need the toilet. Waiting for you inside the toilet door is another pair of slippers. What to do? These extra slippers are 'toilet slippers' and they NEVER come out of the toilet. So if you need the toilet you have to swap 'house slippers' for 'toilet slippers' and perform a slipper shuffle each time you go in or come out.
After the toilet you want to hang out in the tatami (woven grass carpet) room. House slippers OK? Think again buddy. Tatami translates to "no shoes allowed", so upon entering the tatami room, it's foot coverings off (except for socks, which is lucky for sockmonkeys).
The rules of shoes and floors can be bent to suit individual situations. A friend of mine worked in a high school and had to wear indoor slippers. Indoors included all of the school grounds and 200 metres down the road to the local convenience store. Huh?
As you can see, Japanese floor protocol is full of footware pitfalls. If you follow what the locals are doing you should be OK. Gambatte!!

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