Gaijin Stories

These short stories are a collection of my experiences while living in Tokyo. I hope people wishing to learn more about Japan and gaijin in japan wishing to compare experiences will find them interesting. I also hope some Japanese people will find a gaijin's perspective interesting reading as well.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Socks ( 1 )

In my first week in Japan I was invited to go out to an izakaya with a group of people, 4 gaijin and 4 Japanese. As we walked into the entrance of the izakaya, I realized that everyone had to take off their shoes before stepping up onto the polished wooden flooring. I watched carefully noticing how the first Japanese guy easily slipped off his shoes without undoing his laces, then, without placing a sock onto the not so clean carpet, he stepped straight onto the clean wooden flooring.
Since I was still new to the country and everything was still very unfamiliar to me, I was being careful not to make any embarrassing mistakes. I hoped I hadn’t put on my oldest socks, but since I had arrived in Japan, I hadn’t owned any old socks, so that wasn’t a problem. I knew I’d have to take more time to undo my laces but I felt that wouldn’t be a problem either.
Suddenly, my attention turned to another member of our group. A gaijin who was not only green like myself but not very observant. He was telling a story about a drunk salaryman who threw up near the station the night before. He slipped off his shoes, picked them up, and started stepping around on the carpet. He continued, trying to keep his audience while they took off their shoes.
There was a definite boundary. One area was the carpet, the soles of shoes and the dirt from the ground outside. The second area was the polished wooden flooring, the insides of shoes and socks which were considered free from dirt.
As he walked towards and stepped up onto the wooden flooring, I noticed a few pairs of eyes flick down at his feet but nobody said anything to him. I don’t know if they were thinking about the boundary between the 2 areas or if they were looking at his big toes protruding through his socks.

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