Guest in Japan

We arrived at our friend’s house and are greeted by familiar faces, but language problems remain acute. Before entering the house we have to remove our shoes, and everyone laughs because our feet are too big for the slippers provided. The Japanese custom of bowing fascinated us, but we will soon be doing the same quite unconsciously, and our hosts noted this with approval.
We into a room called tatami room. Tatami is expensive, and to lengthen its days the Japanese do not wear slippers in this room. We sat on a cushion, which you move around the little foot-high table in order to make room for others. The lady of the house hastens to move the cushion back to its original position. We learned a little more of old Japan when we’re told that to have cushions across the point where the tatami mats meet could mean death. A story is told of how, in days of old, the Samurai warriors would plunge their swords up between the mats and kill anyone sitting there. Whether this be fact or fiction, you remember that you are only a visitor, and respect for your hostess requires you to sit where she wants. It was quite an experience we had when we visited Japan last month.

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