It’s no secret that I wear Converse all the time, not just converse but Converse Hi-Tops. This proved not to be the best kind of footwear  for a visit to Japan. Whenever we get back to the hotel, all hot and sticky and with aching legs, the first thing I have to do is untie and take off my boots.

When we go out and invariably forget something I have to go back to the room and remove my boots, pick up whatever I returned for and then put my boots back on and lace them up.

There are lots of beautiful temples and shrines to see here too. Of course you don’t get to visit them properly unless you kick off your shoes and traipse around in your socks. (It’s worth it though).

Some of the places we have eaten also require you to follow tradition and take off your shoes before you get to the table and at the end of a day’s walking around in temperatures of 37 degrees my legs have been so knackered that I can barely bend down.  In the first restaurant, having managed to get rid of my shoes we were lead to a table that was only 6 inches off the floor. I initially worried how I would cope sitting cross legged for the duration of the meal but I needn’t have. It turned out that there was a hole beneath the table
to put your legs into. How weird is it to build 2 levels of floor rather than have normal tables and chairs? Every time the waiters brought the food they had to bend down to us. 

The other thing about removing your shoes is that you must put on shoes to go to the loo. In the hotel we are provided with slippers to wear in our room but when you go to the loo you change from your indoor slippers to a special pair of loo slippers. In restaurants the loos have toilet slippers for you to wear too.

This brings me to the subject of toilets. Japan has the most amazing lavs. Well, they have two types. The first is the public toilet which tends to be a hole in the ground and best avoided. The second type is what people have in their homes and we have in the hotel. These toilets have functions you probably never dreamed of having. To start with they have warm seats. Yes, never get a cold bottom again. You can set the temperature so it suits you perfectly. To the right of you, as you are sitting, is a control panel. The first button directs a warm jet of water directly at your exit door with amazing accuracy. The second
button is just for the ladies and directs a second jet of water slightly further forward (I found this out through experimentation). We found that in the department stores their toilets also let you pick a tune to listen to while you sit and we heard that some also have a warm air blower to dry you off  afterwards. When you flush the loo the tap that sits in the inbuilt sink on top of the cistern starts to run warm water to you can wash your hands without even needing to touch a tap.  In toilets, like in everything else we Brits, were there in the early days of its invention but the rest of the word has left us behind (no pun intended).

While writing this another thing comes to mind:  The Japanese like to be low to the ground. Their futon beds are basically a couple of duvets on the floor. Their tables are not as high as most coffee tables and the chairs have no legs. You don’t see many benches in the streets or railway stations either as the locals are quite happy to squat. 

More from my travels soon.



John B
07/17/2012 7:18am

Great post Chris. Very amusing. It sounds like an amazing trip.

07/18/2012 12:03pm

My question has to be do you get your own toilet slippers to keep or do you have to share? Which would surely be an unhygienic as keeping your shoes on?

07/19/2012 8:05am

You have to wear communal loo slippers but its preferable to going to the gents in your stocking feet.


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