Learning about Uwabaki’s–Walking with the Japanese!


There are so many experiences that I have had in service with Japanese leaders—some humorous, some challenging, some a blessing, and some joyful.

People react differently when under stress.  Some perspire, some get nauseated, some cry, but I always need to use the toilet.

Pick Among Those that Don’t Fit!

Every culture has nuances that require attention to avoid a serious faux pas.  I was first introduced to the custom of using uwabaki (slippers) in the Naruse Church in Japan.  I had read enough to understand that we would be expected to leave our shoes in the genkan in exchange for uwabaki (that happened to be red).  What I did not know was that if I entered the toilet, I would need to exchange the red uwabaki for green uwabaki for hygiene reasons.  And, did I mention that the largest uwabaki size is 8, while I wear a 14–hilarious.

Oh, my I think green is for the WC.

As we prepared for worship I had entered the sanctuary and took a seat in the front pew directly in front of the pulpit.  I suddenly felt the nervous need to visit the toilet.  Upon returning to the sanctuary, I took my pew again and bowed my head to pray.  Before closing my eyes, I was terrified to see that I had not removed my shining green uwabaki.  Did anyone notice?  All I know is I then had a cultural compulsion to return to the toilet where I left the red slippers and returned with a red face and the appropriate red uwabaki.  At least I was color coordinated.

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2 thoughts on “Learning about Uwabaki’s–Walking with the Japanese!

  1. Sharon Chappell October 10, 2012 at 4:02 pm Reply

    Entertaining story…keep them coming!

  2. Marji October 10, 2012 at 8:23 pm Reply

    I think I recognize my foot there……………

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