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Email: Greetings from Japan – Slippers

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Date: Wednesday, 19 June 2002 00:18 PDT
Subject: Greetings from Japan – Slippers

Hi!
We’ve started week two of our vacation here in Japan. One of the things that struck me about how Japan is different from the U.S. is their use of slippers. When we arrived at the Hiroshima Youth Hostel we were asked to remove our shoes before entering the carpeted area of the lobby. We removed our shoes and replaced them with slippers which were supplied by the Hostel. We placed our outdoors shoes in a large wooden structure with lots of shelves.

I’ve had two problems with the slippers here. The first is that they are too small for my European feet (size 10 1/2). The second is that if I wear my socks (which you are supposed to do), they fall off. Carrying backpacks up steep starts with small slippers that keep falling off is a real headache. Of course, before you enter your room, you are supposed to remove your slippers to protect the bamboo mats.

At the Kyoto Youth Hostel, we were confronted with a new twist — bathroom slippers. Getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom is a real chore. First you must go outside of your room and put on your house slippers. Then, once you enter the bathroom you must transfer to the bathroom slippers. After you’ve done your business, you must repeat the process in reverse.

Another trial is ferrying your backpacks from the carpeting part of the lobby outside. Remember, you can’t wear your house slippers in the entryway of the lobby. So, you would have to change your slippers with your backpack on. A better solution is to have someone transfer to their outside shoes and then hand the bags one by one over the DMZ (the De-Militarized-Zone or the border between the carpeted area and the entry area of the lobby).

We are in Takayama today. It is a few hours south of Tokyo in the so-called Japanese Alps. If it wasn’t for the bamboo and the Kanji signs, you would think you were in the Swiss Alps. There are pines and maples and firs and cedars. The towns are all beautiful as we watch them go by from our train seat. The weather is great too — about 75F.

Hope everyone is well,
The Van Soye family

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