I used to have no problem with taking off your shoes when you go to someone’s house. As a kid, we used to take off our shoes in the house because mom wanted to keep the carpet nice. It’s more comfortable and probably healthier. There are quite a few orthopedic problems that can be alleviated or prevented by going barefoot regularly, and it helps prevent foot fungus and other gunk. It’s even okay that you have to take off your shoes at some businesses, but with my new job and living situation the number of shoes I need has grown to ridiculous proportions.
I have to wear a suit or equivalent to work. That means dress shoes to and from. Inside, I need a pair of shoes to walk around with. I wear slip-on semi-dress shoes because I’m sure as hell not going to wear a nice suit with athletic shoes or sandals. I’m not much of a clothes snob, but that’s the kind of thing an Eastern European peasant (or Japanese teacher) would wear. We’re not supposed to wear shoes for the main areas of the school in the language lab to keep the carpet from being worn prematurely, so I need another pair of shoes for that. So far, I’ve just been going without since the provided slippers are at least two inches too short and I haven’t gotten around to buying anything appropriate.
The only place in the school with enough space to comfortably hold an assembly is the soccer field, which is astroturfed. To protect the astroturf, we are required to wear some kind of athletic shoes with a soft sole, no spikes or lugs, and that have not been worn while walking on streets or dirt so that we don’t track dirt, glass, and other detritus onto the field. Reasonable enough, but it means another pair of shoes that can only be worn there, which I’ll use maybe once a month.
If I change to casual clothes to go home, or into workout clothes, I need another pair of shoes because the only thing that looks dorkier than a guy walking around in an athletic t-shirt and shorts, while wearing wing-tips with dress socks, is a midwesterner tourist in ill-fitting shorts with fat white legs contrasting with the farmer burn on his arms and neck, black socks pulled up to the knees, a hawaiian shirt, and sandals. Yes, I have personally seen this fashion disaster more than once. I have no wish to draw comparisons between Farmer Bob and myself.
For the gym, I need a pair of gym shoes. These also cannot be worn outside. I used to just work out barefoot or in socks, but I was usually the only one in the gym at my old place. I can’t do that now that I go to a community gym for about half my workouts.
That’s…let me count, three pairs of shoes just for school, one more pair to wear to and from, a fifth pair if I’m planning to go work out, oh and another pair of gym shoes I have to carry on those days. So six pairs total just for a typical day. Ah, I almost forgot, if we have to go to the gymnasium, we are supposed to have a pair of shoes with non-marking soles, that have not been worn in other areas, to protect the floor there. So that’s seven (7) pairs!
None of them can be worn in more than one place. Add in the couple pairs of casual shoes, a couple pairs of boots (semi-dress, and hiking) and a pair of sandals for non-work wear, and my 下駄箱 (shoe cupboard) is starting to look like Imelda Marcos’ castoff bin. I used to have two pairs of shoes and a pair of sandals. One pair for regular wear, one for running, sandals for everything else. Now I’ve got about twelve.
And that’s just for my section of the damn thing. My wife is quite conservative on the number of shoes she has for a woman, but she still has to have appropriate shoes for various outfits. At least for her work she doesn’t have to have a change of shoes for Every. Single. Bloody. Area.