Awesome Japanese Custom
During the daily ritual of going through the followed-blog-feed, I stumbled upon a very interesting piece of information. On nihonkid, I read about this Japanese custom of having a specific location in a house called Genkan. I found the custom really intriguing and decided to read more about it.
Genkan (玄関): It is a deep rooted idea which originated from the Shinto religion and requires houses to have two levels. An entry way into the house is usually made at a lower level and the rest of the house lies on a little higher level. The lower level at the entry of the house is called Genkan. The floor of Genkan is usually made up of concrete (the upper level is of wood normally). Shoes of the people who come into a house have to remain in the Genkan.
There are some stiff rules which govern the functioning of this area. To use it in the right way you have to make sure of three things.
1. Shoes that have been taken off, have to lie with toes pointed towards the door and the rear end touching walls of the raised area, basically to keep space for other peoples’ shoes.
2. Once the shoes are removed your feet HAVE to land on the raised surface and not on the lower concrete Genkan. Landing barefooted here is considered a taboo.
3. While shoes aren’t allowed beyond this point, slippers which always remain in the house can stay inside the house. They can’t come into the Genkan area though.
Westerners often find it too fussy to stick to these ‘arbitrary’ rules and often get chided by Majime - 真面目（まじめ) – residents of the country. I came across an article which clearly depicts how overwhelmed the author got with these rules and decided to make fun of them. [read it here]
I on the other hand, find it really interesting that Japanese have these stiff rules which they also follow in their everyday lives. Their discipline just never ceases to amaze me.
Advantages (my opinion): I think Genkan serves two crucial purposes. Firstly, it keeps your house free of dirt that normally enters the house through shoes. Secondly, it is a good hygiene practice which keeps your feet clean and you away from diseases. No wonder Japanese people live so long.
P.S Two Kanjis learnt in the process. (Genkan and Majime)
A seemingly regular reader with ideas in sync with mine writes about Japanese learning everyday. crashflyaway started learning Japanese 5 days ago and has made a considerable amount of progress in just 5 days. The author, as a sweet gesture, mentioned me on a blog entry and thanked me for telling him/her about RTK which I first mentioned on day 12. I also went ahead and added a little review kind of a thing which the author read and applied in his/her methods. It has apparently helped him/her a lot. God bless you. [read the post here]
Videos: The Waku waku Japanese lesson videos which I’ve been following for a few days now got bigger again. The Lesson 27 was a special edition and mentioned about 25 new words. I did learn most of them and still revising them. I found it pretty tough to get them all in a single day. So, I ended up watching just two of the videos today. Though the amount of new information I gleaned was in no way less that yesterday or day before yesterday.
Vocabulary: Continued with memrise (mentioned yesterday), learned about a 15 new vocabulary words. Finished the Level 2 of vocabulary. Level 3 is up for tomorrow.
Kanji: 10 more Kanji perfected for the day on the course at Memrise which I mentioned yesterday.
If you think my about page is awesome (which a lot of people do), and it would be great to keep in touch with a blog like this, do follow it from the right sidebar. It will mean a lot to me. Also, it will be a pleasure for me to read what you think about this post. Please take some time to comment. Or feel free to write about me on your blog.
- Genkan, Paving cracks and Riding an Elephant (happyinnocentmusumesenshi.wordpress.com)
- Slippers, the Japanese Way (globalgram.wordpress.com)
- Why We Fail: Use it or Lose it (failingatjapanese.wordpress.com)
- Memrise (12125512sarah.wordpress.com)
- Language Learning Websites (12123196timmy.wordpress.com)
- Japanese Etiquette: Wearing Slippers (otakuovertherainbow.wordpress.com)
- How to keep sand out of the house (xpressmats.com)