Thursday, May 10, 2007

Shoes and flip-flops

Yesterday I was at the Mifumi Kindergaarten again for English and I thought I'd show you a little about Japanese customs there.

Of course everyone knows that the Japanese take off their shoes when entering their homes but did you know that everyone also takes off their shoes when going into the schools and kindergartens? Of course anywhere that there are tatami mat rooms like temples and shrines shoes are required to be removed and up until recently, we even took off our shoes when we entered churches.

At the entrance to the kindergarten (or schools) there is always a large area for shoes to be taken off and for those shoes to be put away in cubby holes. You can imagine the confusion there would be if a hundred children left their shoes here and there at the entrance to a building so each child has his own cubby hole. The cubby is just large enough for a pair of shoes, and during the day while the children are in the building they will wear indoor shoes, simple sneakers. The indoor shoes are all alike so the mothers decorate them with pictures so the kids can tell their shoes from everyone elses'. The shoe changing area is swept daily, in schools by the children, at the kindergarten by the teachers, so it stays clean and sand free.

In the case of Mifumi, the children are encouraged to go barefoot indoors (even in the dead of winter! Builds up stamina!) and when they play in the kindergarten yard they all wear zori, straw flip-flops. Boys have blue, girls have red and even the teachers play outdoors with the kids in flip-flops. (You cannot imagine all the excitement I caused yesterday when I asked a couple of kids to let me take pictures of their zori.! "Take my picture! Take mine!" I ended up taking pictures of barefeet and sneakers, too, but I guess you can see kids' feet anywhere so I'm not posting those!)


marisa said...

I think is a healthy habit we even could make the same thing also here in Italy!ciao

anne bebbington said...

I love those personalised sneakers - boy couldn't you just go to town with the fabric pens on a pair of those! D'you suppose they do them in adult sizes? No only kidding - but wouldn't setting the fabric pens with an iron be a challenge?

teodo said...

vhen I was a teacher mine was a Montessori school,
and the children make the same thing.
ciao ciao

Nadine said...

This is such a cute and interesting post ! Keep doing !
(I've sent an e-mail to you, about the 365 challenge quilt- could you e-mail me your own e-mail address ?>>> had some difficulties to reach you... thanks !)
Hugs & smiles,

QuiltingFitzy said...

Yup, yup! Our shoes are taken off at the door in our home as well. I'm not sure if it's from dh living in Japan (for him) or what, I've always done it! We have a "shoe cabinet" but it has become a drop-off point as we come in from our daily travels!

Thank you for the window into your world.

gwen said...

It is a wonderful habit that the kindergarten children have over here as well and which I try to inculcate to the visitors of my home as well ( not always with success!) Thanks for the nice pictures. Take care.