Shoes and Slippers
It is a custom in Japan to remove one's shoes just
after entering a home. The area just inside the entrance of a Japanese home is called a genkan.
The genkan is always one-step lower than the main part of the
house. After stepping up into the main part
of the house it is a custom to turn your shoes so that they face the outside.
Before you go to Japan, you might want to invest in some new socks. Holes in the
socks could be embarrassing.
After removing your shoes at the genkan it is a custom to put on
slippers which are usually in front of the genkan or in the
immediate area. They are supposed to be "one size fits all" but are almost
always too small. Remember that Japanese tend to have small feet.
The slippers can be worn until you leave. However, they are to be removed before
entering any room with tatami mats. Do not walk on
the tatami with your slippers on. The proper footwear for tatami
is socks or bare feet.
You must also remove your slippers when entering the
bathroom. DON'T WORRY, you will not have to go barefoot into the bathroom!
There will be another set of slippers that are only used in the bathroom. Upon
leaving the bathroom don't forget to change slippers again, as it is pretty embarrassing
to walk in the other parts of the house with the bathroom slippers.
Remove your shoes when entering someone's home.