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maybe you know this...

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can't brain
So I'm on my way to the home of two friends who are Nihonophiles, and a '...huh' question crossed my mind.
So in Japan, it's just Not Done to wear your shoes in the house, for reasons of cleanliness. You go barefoot in the house, unless you're hitting the head: there's a pair of slippers for that.

So... What's proper etiquette around this question for someone in a wheelchair? I imagine that most efficiently, you just all are polite if you wear your shoes in, since wheelchair-bound person is effectively doing the same.
Also, a traditoinal home has an interior area that's a step downwards, where you take off your shoes. If you're living with someone on wheels, there is presumably a ramp for her/him. When's that ramp 'inside' instead of 'outside' space?

These are the thoughts that preoccupy me en route to an RL friend's: if you know those I know RL, you can probably guess easily who I'm visiting.

Please answer any of these questions if you know the answer.
  • Would a friend remove the wheelchair person's shoes when they entered the house? I dunno; it's an interesting question.

    I have Nihonophiles on my flist, and could ask them?
  • The removing of shoes has more to do with the dirt on the shoes that shouldn't be tracked into the rest of the house. So I would think that someone in a wheelchair wouldn't have to remove them, because they haven't touched the ground, but that's just speculation on my part. :\
    • musta misphrased myself!

      So sure, wheelchairperson isn't needing to change her shoes...
      ...but her chair's been wheeling around in all of that filthy dirty outside. Does she change to a house wheelchair?
    • Re: musta misphrased myself!

      Ooooh. Now that one is tough. I have a classmate who might know the answer, but I can't ask her until Monday.
      • Re: musta misphrased myself!

        I look forward to her knowledgeability, and my thanks to her!
    • Re: musta misphrased myself!

      And not just wheelchairs, but crutches would also fall into this query.
      • Re: musta misphrased myself!

        PS: Which might actually help with the answer, since it's not like someone shoving Y-fork sticks under their arms to help themselves get around is anything new. I'm sure there have been Japanese folks hobbling around with those for centuries now, which should have established some sort of protocol.
  • Being the wheelchair-using person in question, and one who hopes to travel to Japan and not offend folks at shrines, I would very much like to know how one handles this. There's no good way to clean wheelchair tires.

    It's worth noting that Japanese-styled homes involve a lot of tatami, which are impossible to clean easily, and sitting on the floor or a lot closer to it than Western furniture usually does. You get a lot more concerned about floor dirt when you're much closer to the floor in question.

    I have seen plastic covers for bicycle wheels so that you can take a bike indoors and not get mud on the floor, sort of like a plastic shower cap. Manual wheelchairs generally use bike wheels or something darn similar, so that might work for manual wheels (although I'd hope for a mobile person to help apply the suckers).

    For myself, I *can* walk a few steps, and would absolutely have a separate "outdoor cane" and "indoor cane" (with "indoor cane" being a folding cane that fits easily in a bag), which would probably do for visiting most private homes (I can get around my own apartment mostly unaided, and my urban one-bedroom can't be much bigger than the average Japanese apartment, at least). But for bigger places (larger shrines in particular, which I earnestly want to visit and not offend), there's a limit to how fat I can go on sticks without exhausting myself and earning myself a bunch of pain. There must be an accepted solution in Japan for folks who can't get around at all on crutches/canes, I assume.

    So if anybody knows what a wheelchair user does when going to a Shinto shrine, or visiting a private home, I would really, really appreciate it!
    • My guess is that the normal etiquette would be to have yourself carried, when no other options are available. I'd guess that large shrines that are frequent tourist destinations might have "inside" wheelchairs available for visitors, though.
    • There's a comment in here now with some data from 'My Japanese girlfriend's pretty sure- she's asking her dad to make certain'.

      As you and the gent may find this article by nihilistic_kid interesting (and SLIGHTLY related to the original post), I link you:
  • According my Japanese girlfriend (who's double checking with her dad, but she's pretty sure), they would still take their (actual) shoes off. Its about outside shoes and inside shoes; most likely, they'd swap shoes. As for the wheels themselves, she says they'd most likely wipe them down or something of that nature. Unless they have a spare chair.

    As for the ramp, since lower, shoe-taking-off level usually = outside ground level, the ramp up into the house would be considered part of the house and would be have to be IMMACULATELY kept. She imagines it would match the house flooring, so as to demarcate it from the "outside" area.

    Ill update if dad says anything different.
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