The next major cultural difference I have come across thus far is the process of shoes: indoor shoes, outdoor shoes, shower shoes, etc.
Okay, so in Japan it is custom to have two pairs of shoes: inside shoes and outside shoes. At some of the facilities we are staying in require both. At Global Arena the only place we are required to wear inside shoes is in the gym facilities. Actually, we are allowed to go barefoot or wear socks; but our inside shoes must be put in the cubbies provided. In Oita we were required to change shoes each and every time we were inside a building and outside. At the inside of the indoor facilities, there were a few 100 cubbies for outside shoes; you put your shoes in there and then change into your indoor shoes, which can be clean tennis shoes, sandals, flip-flops, or slippers / clogs. They just cannot have ever been worn outdoors. Oita provided indoor shoes for those who did not have their own. Many other facilities also provide indoor shoes, but it’s just overall more sanitary to bring your own.
In places such as shopping malls, restaurants, stores, etc. this is not required, but in private facilities, family homes, etc. it most definitely is. Additionally, when you use the toilets, you need to change from your inside shoes to these specifically provided bathroom shoes:
Here in America we often take off our shoes when we enter in a family’s home; in France it was custom to also have slippers for inside the house; but in Japan it is hard-core. I have become accustomed to taking my shoes on and off but I will admit it is a pain in the butt to be in, out, in, out, in, out like 20 times within an hour and changing shoes. One quickly learns that slip on sandals are the way to go.