Ruth: I am determined to be as polite as I can be in Japan, but slipper etiquette continues to trip me up. At a minimum there are three different types of slippers at our lodging each night, and one place had five! Yes, that’s right, five. There were the hallway slippers, the outside slippers, the bathroom slippers, the concrete floor before the bathroom stall slippers, and the balcony slippers.
In preparation for a slipper world I brought my own flip flops, but they do not seem to fit into the highly specialized functions required. And the use of slippers is not optional in Japanese homes. I was beginning to think I was getting the hang of changing slippers when our host in Hiwasa, who spoke fluent English, gently pointed out my errors. I was stepping out of one pair and into the next pair, but as she explained, this action needs to happen without your socks or foot touching the ground between slippers. This requires a sense of balance I do not have, but it is important because those same socks or feet will be the only thing allowed in your tatami floored room. Grit adhering to socks or bare feet will damage the tatami.
Today was the first day of rain on our trip, and it has come with a vengeance. We dodged through the torrent in our outside slippers this evening, running into the adjacent building for dinner. Our host is a surfer with a Volkswagen bug and a taste for Mike Myers. We are at Ikumi beach, a big surfing area, but it’s raining so heavily I have not walked the block to even peek at the beach.
We are moving along one of the longest stretches of the route without a temple to visit. Here is a map to show our progress so far. (We are on the coast between Temples 23 and 24.). We should make it to Temple 24 the day after tomorrow.