Did you know that shoes are not worn in Japanese homes?
When I first arrived in Japan one of my first cultural experiences was to remove my shoes in the entrance hallway (called a Genkan), place my shoes on a storage shelf and then put on some complimentary slippers before stepping up into the house.
|A Japanese Genkan - notice the lower entrance area and cupboard for storage of shoes. |
image via housenary
|Japanese house slippers available for guests to use|
|Typical Ryokan (Japanese Guest House) entrance|
image via you in japan
Whilst I thought this was a great idea as it prevents dirt being brought into the home or damage to floor finishes it is also a very important expectation of social etiquette and cleanliness in Japan.
There are quite a few house design principles that are present in older Japanese homes that are generally not seen in Australian homes. Some of these are:
- Tatami mats (made from rice straw) for the floor finish in the main living, dining and sleeping areas.
- With a tatami floor you sit on cushions on the floor and NOT on chairs (no lounges or sofas).
- Similarly with sleeping, you sleep on futon mattresses spread out on the tatami flooring and NOT in a western style bed.
I will highlight some of these differences in more detail in future posts.
|A Japanese dining room with tatami flooring|
image via blimi
|Futon mattresses spread out on tatami flooring. When you wake the matresses are stored in the surrounding built-in wardrobes |
image via marumura
Most of us have a natural flooring of some sort whether it be timber, an expensive wool rug or natural stone. If we could implement this policy in our homes there would be so many benefits:
- Less washing, vacuuming and cleaning of floors, rugs and carpets
- Less damage to timber floors, carpets & rugs from heals, dirty shoes and stains
- Less dust in the house for allergy sufferers
- Less noise for our neighbours
- Cleaner floors for children to play on