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to ask people to take their shoes off and how would I do it?

(292 Posts)
Pennybubbly Fri 24-Jul-09 02:44:18

OK, not a huge one in the grand scale of things, but here goes.
I've lived in Japan for 14 years now and am married to a Japanese bloke. We have 2 young dcs.
We will be moving back to the UK in the future and one of the customs here that has stuck with me is how everyone is expected to remove their shoes before they enter someone's home.
It's principally a matter of cleanliness and if you think about it, when you have small kids rolling around on the floor, it makes sense for it to be on a space where you have not walked in shoes which have in turn walked in cat wee and general dirt outside.
My DH would be horrified if someone came into our house without taking their shoes off (which of course they never do here) and though he accepts it's not the custom in the UK to do so, and would therefore never criticise (of course) friends and relatives who wear shoes in their homes, he would not want people to do so in our house. And neither would I.
So question is: AIBU and how can I ask people in the nicest possible way to respect DH's culture?

SofiaAmes Fri 24-Jul-09 03:07:45

I think it's not an unheard of thing in the West, just not very common. I would just ask them nicely. Make sure you have some place for them to put their shoes and maybe even some house slippers for them to wear in case they feel uncomfortable without their shoes.

Zoomum Fri 24-Jul-09 03:26:33

No not unreasonable at all.....I find it repellent that people wear shoes in the house, so unhygenic. I, too am half japanese, so I just can't underdtand why people would tramp dirt around their house. I sometimes suffer from not knowing how to ask people. I have to take a breath and be straight forward....

HolyGuacamole Fri 24-Jul-09 03:28:59

I find it quite common here and would always take my shoes off when I go into someones house and expect the same back. It's not so much a culture thing though, it's more to do with not wanting to re-carpet the house if it gets dirty grin

I probably wouldn't mention it as a culture thing, simply because I don't think there is a need to. Just say "sorry but I hope you don't mind if I ask you to take your shoes off". We have pairs of those washable cheapo Ikea slippers at the front door for people to wear if they want and if we're going to friends I take my own with me. I actually feel more comfortable getting my shoes off and the cosy slippers on.

Have never felt that anyone has been offended in being asked to take their shoes off so don't let it worry you smile

Knickers0nMaHead Fri 24-Jul-09 03:29:04

yanbu. Just ask them politely, please can you take off your shoes.

ViktoriaMac Fri 24-Jul-09 03:30:38

For years I thought everyone took off their shoes...I always do and now so does DH. I usually find most people do when they see the row of shoes by the door. In your case I'd just say; "Do you mind taking off your shoes, it's a Japanese thing." Don't be apologetic, just make sure that this is clearly normal for you and your family.

Pennybubbly Fri 24-Jul-09 03:35:44

Phew, there are a few more like-minded people around then. Ta for your responses at this silly hour (there, not here!).
Read something on a thread a few weeks ago that mentioned this (it wasn't the topic of the thread but it came up as an example of something unreasonable) and a few people were like hmm no way would I take my shoes off and so on.
I can stick with my clean floors for a bit longer then grin

Zoomum Fri 24-Jul-09 03:39:45

Yes it's ridiculous that I'm up at this hour, i drank green tea at 10pm. I swear that stuff is like rocket fuel hence no sleep. Silly me....that's my excuse what about the rest of you!!

Where in Japan are you Pennybubbly? My family is from Miyazaki...we just went there in february to take DS to see great grandma. had a great time in Kyushu, then Kyoto, then Tokyo....I love that everyone is sooooo polite and go out of their way to give good service? Are you prepared for Britain???? Sorry have hijacked your thread a bit

SofiaAmes Fri 24-Jul-09 03:40:53

I have found quite a few people offering to take off their shoes when they come to my house...couldn't quite figure it out, because I don't have a shoeless house. But eventually figured out that it was the row of shoes abandoned by the door by the kids and dh because they are too lazy to pick up after themselves that inspired this. grin

HolyGuacamole Fri 24-Jul-09 03:43:46

Oh Japan sounds fab. 2 of our friends got back from holiday in Tokyo a couple of months ago and they were raving about it, said it was VERY clean, the trains were fab but also that it was very expensive compared to the UK?

SofiaAmes Fri 24-Jul-09 03:52:46

When we lived in London we lived in West Acton opposite the Japanese school. They were always so organized at drop off and pickup. The only person who ever parked in front of our drive was a white english woman!!! I kept telling the headmistress at ds' nursery (at local state primary) how they should try the same system. She insisted that the english could never be that disciplined. As it happens, now that I'm in the usa, my ds/dd's local state school has exactly the same (very organized) system.

Pennybubbly Fri 24-Jul-09 04:08:01

We live in Tokyo now but my DH is originally from Shikoku. We also lived (pre-marriage and pre-kids) in Osaka.
Yes it is clean here, trains are on time, service is good. Stuff that I know I'll miss when we're back in the UK. But polite and friendly? Nope, don't think so. Being told to greet people when they enter a shop, bowing at customers as they leave, that's something that they're paid and forced to do. Perhaps it's different in the countryside, no I'm sure it is, but in the big cities, it's as faceless and impersonal as any big city.
I got punched in the stomach by a 'salaryman' when 5 months pregnant (posted about this on a different thread recently) for the simple reason that I accidently bumped into him as I struggled out of my seat on a busy train holding my then 2 year-old dd. No-one so much as even glanced at me, let alone ask me if I was ok - I was in tears in front of my dd who had witnessed everything.
Anyway, not starting on that rant again! There's a lot that we in the UK could learn form the Japanese, but vice versa too.
With 2 small DCs and no family at all nearby, I'm looking forward to being back around my family (though ask me that again after 6 months back there and I'll probably give you a different answer!).
BTW HolyGuacamole - I think prices are on a par with London tbh. I think the biggest difference would be the size of the apartments here - ridiculously small. Of course for your friends it would be expensive at the moment cause of the exchange rate too.

LisaD1 Fri 24-Jul-09 08:50:55


We live in sunny Surrey and I ALWAYS ask people to remove their shoes before entering my home. We live in a modest house, in a modest area. We spent a lot of our hard earned cash decorating our home, including having laminate floor fitted and frankly I don't want to have other people's dirty shoes on my floor! I'm always polite, but never apologetic for asking them to remove shoes. My hubby even got the midwife to take hers off when she came to check on me and our baby. My DD2 is 20 months old and immediately takes her shoes off when coming in the front/back door of mine and anyone elses home.

I think most people won't bat an eyelid at the request to take their shoes off.

Lisa :-)

Stigaloid Fri 24-Jul-09 08:59:39

We don't have shoes in the house in our house. When i open the door i say 'hello! lovely to see you. please come in. Pop your shoes here <indicates shoe stand by front door> and if you need a pair of slippers just ask' If you say it straight away in friendly chirpy voice no one complains. (Unless of course they are my mother hmm whose response is 'what a silly rule - how on earth do you know my feet aren't dirtier than my shoes?' <yuck>

GrendelsMum Fri 24-Jul-09 09:08:33

We do the same thing - for me, it's having lived in Russia for a while, where no-one would dream of wearing shoes in a house.

In fact, I do find that if you're wearing slippers, most people will then ask if you're happy for them to wear shoes or if you'd like them to take them off.

As Stigaloid says, if you're just bouncy and welcoming and say 'You can pop your shoes here, and here are our guest slippers', all is well. After a bit, people arrive to visit with their own slippers, which is great!

I had a friend of my sister's come and stay once on her way to a job interview, and was mega-impressed that she immediately stepped through the door, opened an overnight bag, and pulled out her slippers - best guest I've ever had.

TwoHot Fri 24-Jul-09 09:10:43

I do it fi the carpet looks pale or cleaner than mine!

Just have a rug handy and say, you can leave your shoes there (with a friendly smile). You will only have to ask once for each person. Many you wont have to ask as they will automatically copy you.

Its becomming more and more common so no need to feel odd about it at all.

NoTart Fri 24-Jul-09 09:15:37

I just tell people that there are slippers for their use when they come in.. ikea is cheap option, also possible to buy one huge novelty "slipper" which contains many normal sized slippers. I´ve never had a problem witgh this - on continental Europe at least!

sarah293 Fri 24-Jul-09 09:24:13

Message withdrawn

mumof2teenboys Fri 24-Jul-09 09:24:53

We do this, my oh is Indian and all his family take their shoes off at the door, so when we moved in together it just sort of evolved! I think that when people see a pile neatly stacked set of shoes by the door they automatically take their shoes off.

Bizarrely, the only person who refuses to remove their shoes is his mother hmm but I think thats her way of showing passive unhappiness of our relationship.sad

junglist1 Fri 24-Jul-09 09:31:29

When it's raining people come in with their water shoe dirt mix and leave footprints on my laminate. Now it's shoes off. Just ask politely, have slippers there if you want.

seaturtle Fri 24-Jul-09 09:32:22

I'm from the Philippines, and we take our shoes off too. I like to take my shoes off when I go to other peoples' houses, especially if they have crawling babies. If you think about where our shoes have been, and the fact that they have their hands on the carpet and are constantly putting them in their mouths it makes sense.

The only complaints I have is the people concerned (and often quite rightly!) about having smelly feet or not changing their socks more often.

Hulababy Fri 24-Jul-09 09:32:37

I think it is pretty common in the UK. Pretty much everyone I know don't wear shoes in their house. We dont have shoes on the top two floors of our house (whih is our main living space) where we can help it; I don't mind them on the ground floor where the garden room and utlity room is, However you can see a massive difference in the carpet down there compared to the rest of the house - the carpet does look much less clean.

I have noticed that even most workmen, etc. offer to remove shoes before coming in as well. I never ask them to beforehand, but most do anyway.

I hate the idea of shoes in my house. Seems so unclean.

BadgersArse Fri 24-Jul-09 09:32:59

This is a very very well practised debate on Mn

prettyfly1 Fri 24-Jul-09 10:40:28

my sister just had a carpet worth thousands fitted - she would have a pink fit if I dared walk my mucky feet on it. Just ask people to take em off - noone will mind.

ManicMother7777 Fri 24-Jul-09 11:09:09

I would mind. I appreciate I seem to be in a minority here but I think being asked to take your shoes off is very U. I think to have a carpet so valuable and precious that no-one can walk on it in shoes is absurd.

I had a friend like this, not only were people not allowed to wear shoes but you had to stand in the tiny kitchen to drink your coffee. I found this really OTT.

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