Do you know the difference between Japan's sandals and slippers?
Just what are Japan's sandal customs and manners? In this article, we are going to be exploring and explaining how Japan uses both sandals and slippers.
In your own country, it may be that you wear sandals outside when it's hot, and then simply walk into your home without changing.
However, in Japan, you can't do this! Japanese people always switch their shoes when entering their homes, and as soon as you enter the entrance of a Japanese home, you will almost always see a change of slippers waiting.
About Japan's Slippers
It is said that Japanese style slippers were first introduced towards the end of the Edo era towards the start of the Meiji era. Many foreign people came to Japan after the end of the Sakoku era (when Japan was closed to all outsiders). During this time period, there were, of course, no western style hotels in Japan, which meant that foreigners had to stay at traditional Japanese inns and shrines. During this time, foreign visitors were not aware of the culture of taking your shoes off before entering a building, and this caused a lot of trouble. This is where the idea of slippers in Japan came from, it was so they could wear shoes indoors.
How Japan uses Slippers
Usually in Japan, slippers are something you wear indoors, not outdoors. Recently, slippers are being sold more and more with seasonal designs and trends in many clothing stores.
Next up we are going to explain where and how to use slippers in Japan.
As we explained above, slippers are typically something you wear indoors only in Japan. You will typically see these slippers placed at the entrance of Japanese homes, so that when you come home, you can quickly take off your outside shoes and put on your indoor slippers. Many Japanese homes also prepare slippers especially for guests. If you're ever visiting a Japanese household, make sure you don't just walk in normally, change into the slippers provided, and then walk into the home. If there are no slippers prepared, either enter in your socks or bare feet.
After entering nursery, you are given special slippers or shoes for children. Due to them being made for children, they typically come with cute designs. However, for primary school students, the designs are typically more simple, with white and possibly one other color. When you become a middle school student, you usually wear sneakers which have a specific color that is pre-designated. It's through these colors you understand what year the student is in.
When arriving at school, the first thing you do is put your outside shoes into your locker and change into your inside slippers/shoes. Most schools have personal lockers, so they can store their shoes and such there. After switching shoes, they enter class. After finishing school, they change back into their outdoor shoes and go home.
In Japanese public high schools, there is hardly any use of hallway slippers. They typically go to class without changing shoes.
During interviews with parents, PTA activities, or events in the school hall, no slippers are provided, so most parents/guardians have to bring their own. Buying a personal pair of slippers is something of a standard within Japan.
Hotel, Inns, AirBNB
When staying at a Japanese hotel, you should have a pair of slippers prepared for you within the amenities. They are usually within a plastic bag. If you're staying at a traditional Japanese inn, you should be able to swap your shoes for indoor slippers at the front desk. The hotel / inn staff should store your shoes in a locker. After that, you can undergo your check-in process. You should put these slippers on whilst inside the building. However, these things may differ depending on hotel, so make sure to check and follow the rules accordingly.
When staying at an AirBnB, it is not guaranteed that slippers will be provided, and due to this a lot of people enter the residence with their shoes on. Make sure to take your shoes off
*Due to COVID-19, it seems that a lot more countries are taking on the custom of wearing slippers indoors. This is shown by how many orders are being made from overseas. Surely they are hoping that by switching shoes for indoors it will help prevent the spread of the disease.