First time living in a place that has a “genkan”? Wondering what to do with it? Check out our tips on how you can organize your genkan!
While modern apartments across the world share many similarities, there are some notable differences. One new thing that you might discover upon moving into a Japanese house or apartment is a “genkan”. A genkan is a place to take your shoes off and set them aside when entering a Japanese home. Virtually all Japanese people take their shoes off when entering their homes. While it might be the norm to wear shoes in the house in your home country, we suggest adopting a “shoes-off” household when living in Japan. Since it’s considered impolite and dirty to wear shoes in the house, any Japanese guests you have over will probably be put off by the sight of you wearing shoes in your home. In addition, you’re more likely to scratch or otherwise damage the floor if you’re wearing shoes (especially if it’s tatami flooring) and be required to pay for the repairs.
If you’ve never lived in a “shoes-off” household before, you might find yourself mystified by your genkan. Aside from shoes, is there anything else you should keep there? Are there any special items that you need to buy just for your genkan? Don’t worry, we’ll explain everything! Here’s a guide to organizing your genkan.
Keep it Clean
Your genkan is the first thing people see when they enter your home, so it’s important to keep it clean. Make sure to clean up any mud you track in right away. Part of your genkan will usually be made of cement, tile, or another material that’s different from the flooring in the rest of your home. It’s usually a material that’s easy to clean dirt and debris off of, as the genkan is meant to be a transitional point between the outdoors and your home. Sweep this area out at least once a week. Additionally, you might want to use room spray or an aroma diffuser to keep your genkan smelling fresh.
The main purpose of your genkan is to have a place to take off and store your shoes. Some apartments come with a cabinet or shelves intended for you to keep your shoes in. If your genkan doesn’t have one, it’s a good idea to buy one. When looking for storage, think about the size and shape of your shoes. If you have boots, you’ll need storage that can accommodate their long, slim shape. Adjust your shelves accordingly. If your genkan is very small, you might have to keep only the shoes you wear regularly in it and store the rest away elsewhere. Those with the space for larger shoe cabinets or shelves should think about keeping a box for shoe polish and brushes inside.
Aside from shoe storage, there are a few other things you’ll want to keep in your genkan. Umbrellas are usually kept in the genkan so you can easily grab them on your way out. If you have space, you can get an umbrella stand, but if your genkan is tiny, you should opt for a small rack to hang your umbrellas from. It’s also a good idea to keep slippers for your guests at your genkan. It is considered good manners to offer your guests slippers in Japan, and they might think less of you if you don’t have any. You should also keep a shoehorn in your genkan. Even if you typically don’t have trouble getting your shoes on, you might have elderly visitors that’ll need to use it.
Other Things You Might Want for Your Genkan
Depending on the size of your genkan, you can keep far more than footwear in it. If you have a larger genkan, you can store your bicycle in it. To keep your bicycle from getting in the way, consider installing a bike rack on your genkan wall. You may also want to keep a dish with your watch, keys, and any other items you forget to grab when running out the door. In addition, you can add some trinkets or other decorative items to make your genkan look nicer. Alternatively, you can keep a small plant or two in your genkan to liven up the space!