Yes, it’s true, we like to be barefoot in Hawaii. Especially in the house. This tradition has its roots in many of the Asian cultures that created our collective Hawaiian community. Shoes are left at the door. Make sure you leave with your own pair!
Personally, I like being barefoot in my home, and as an added bonus, it encourages me to keep my floors clean. During my time living on the mainland, I found it horribly uncomfortable to enter someone’s home with my shoes on. Even if they said, “no, really, it’s ok, we always wear our shoes in the house!” In my mind, I was tracking a horrible, viral, cancerous, greasy, grimy crud across their floors that would leave a permanent track and make everyone sick with a fatal disease. At least that’s what I imagined was happening when someone wore their shoes in MY house! I think I can honestly say I’d rather someone lose their lunch on my brand new carpet than walk across it with their outside shoes on. Yes, it’s that deeply engrained. Weird? Maybe.
While this is practiced in many Asian cultures, I found this information from The Japan Forum Website:
Japanese Culture and Daily Life:
Kutsu O Nugu – Removing Shoes
In the mid-nineteenth century, first American consul to Japan Townsend Harris shocked Japanese by walking straight into the shogun’s presence in Edo Castle without removing his shoes. Foreign visitors unfamiliar with Japanese customs even today can just as easily startle or even anger their hosts by walking into a home without taking off their shoes at the door. One of the peculiarities of the Japanese home, in fact, is that outdoor footwear are left at the door, and most Japanese cannot imagine wearing shoes in the house. The custom is deep-rooted and has not changed despite the widespread shift in the typical lifestyle from that centering around tatami-mat floored rooms to Western-style interiors furnished with tables, chairs, and beds.
I love this etiquette gem:
Genkan – Etiquette
Learning the proper way of leaving one’s shoes in the genkan is part of the manners every child learns. When visiting someone else’s house, it is proper to turn around after stepping up into the hallway, and align your shoes, placing them to one side. Before you leave, you will find they have been turned around and placed in the center, where you can slip into them easily as you depart.
This probably discourages guests from trying to take a better pair when they leave!
Now many “mainlanders” have shared with me that it makes them uncomfortable to take of their shoes at someone’s house, and frankly, there are lots of houses they’ve visited where they don’t want their bare feet on the floor (probably because the occupants wear their shoes in the house!) I guess it’s all in the way you were brought up. We are the products of our cultures, family, and environment. But I promise you – come to my house, take off your shoes, and you’ll have a clean floor to walk on. I’ll even loan you some house shoes if you’d like.
Were you raised wearing shoes inside or not?
Have your habits changed?
If so, why?