The Japanese obsession with removing your shoes and its influence on the evolution of furniture design
You might know that in Japan people always remove their shoes before entering a home or certain other buildings (including primary and secondary schools). But did you know that this one cultural practice had a huge impact on the development (or lack thereof) of furniture design in traditional Japan?
To be honest, until very recently I didn't quite understand the obsessive need to remove your shoes every time you enter your house. Yes, in theory it makes sense to keep the house clean. But I think many foreigners in Japan can relate to the frustration of having to unlace and re-lace your shoes every time you forget one thing before heading out (I started using my sneakers as slip-ons...). I didn't really get what the big deal was - why can't you just clean the floor more often?
Well, it's official! I'll soon be moving to Fukuoka, Japan. After a couple of years of working towards this goal, I was finally successful and had the amazing fortune to receive a research scholarship from the Japanese government. When people ask me why I became interested in Japan and learning the language, my answer is always, "Japanese design." It's kind of a fun story actually...