Toshishun4genkanThe foyer of a traditional Japanese dojo or home is called the genkan (玄関).  This area should be kept especially clean and neat. When students come into the dojo, they should take off their shoes and arrange them neatly with the toes pointing out.  If there is no more space left, they should put them in the geta-bako (下駄箱) or shoe rack with the toes facing in.

If a guest comes, a space and path should be created for their shoes so that they can easily slip them on and walk out.  It is the job of the students to take care of the shoes and their arrangement.

Sensei used to stand at the door and monitor the shoes whenever we would host groups of children.  He would jokingly chide them about making their shoes straight or if they mixed up the left and right.

In the old days, the first thing any prospective monk in training would look at was the genkan.   If the genkan was neat and orderly they knew that the school had discipline and they would go in.  If the genkan was dirty or the shoes were disorderly then they knew the school had no discipline and they would keep going.

Please make sure to take care of the shoes on your way in and especially on your way out.  This little thing says so much about your training and level of ability.