The House Slippers

The House Slippers

The Japanese generally wear slippers inside the home, although it is acceptable to wear socks or just go barefoot. When first entering the Japanese home, you will be in the genkan. That's the entrance area where you remove and store your shoes. The floor in the genkan area will generally be at ground level and the floor just beyond that will be slightly raised up several inches in order to stop dirt from being dragged into the house and to serve as a line of demarcation. After you have removed your shoes, do not step on the genkan floor with your socks or bare feet as this will track dirt into the home.

I've noticed some foreigners remove their shoes at the genkan, then later proceed to walk outside (perhaps through a different entrance) barefoot and then walk back into the house. This, rather obviously, defeats the purpose of removing your shoes to begin with. Don't do this.