Cultural Origami: Japanese Hygiene and Disposable Slippers for the Spa, Pool and Bath

from Caractère Paris

Open and Closed Toe Slippers

Slippers have been an expected welcome item in luxury hotels and spas for decades, but they’re just starting to show up in mainstream establishments. However, in Japan, this was never the case. Why? For the answer, we turn to Wikipedia’s article on Japanese Bathrooms. In fact, the custom of wearing slippers in the bathroom dates back centuries, to a time when toilets used to be located outside the home in the garden or on the street. Japanese culture strictly defines a difference between areas deemed clean and unclean. This dichotomy is the reason why many Japanese remove their footwear when entering a house. Due to the fact that toilets used to be located outside (similar to Western outhouses), it was essential to put on slippers when walking from the clean zone inside the house to the outside, considered by most to be dirty.

from Caractère Paris

White Slippers

Even though bathrooms in Japan migrated inside over the course of modernisation, the custom of wearing a separate pair of slippers for the bathroom remained critical to the Japanese mentality. Contact between the two zones must be kept to a minimum in order to respect cleanliness and preserve hygiene. Despite the fact that a scientific study proves “other places are much more likely to have higher bacterial contamination” than the bathroom, the Japanese remain extremely rigid in their beliefs about sanitation. Even today, “many private homes and also some public toilets have toilet slippers (トイレスリッパ) in front of the toilet door that should be used when in the toilet and removed right after leaving the toilet. This also indicates if the toilet is in use… A frequent faux pas of foreigners is to forget to take off the toilet slippers after a visit to the restroom, and then use these in the non-toilet areas, hence mixing the clean and unclean areas.”

from Caractère Paris

Black Slippers

Increasingly, Japanese tourists began to frequent European hotels and ask for pairs of bathroom slippers. Two years ago, Caractère developed its first models of disposable slippers for budget level accommodations. While the monopolies of the hotel industry have dedicated suppliers, Caractère was one of the first companies to offer disposable slippers to small and mid-sized businesses. The original slipper design was popular, but then requests came from hotel owners for different sizes, colours, designs (closed toe versus open toe) and for customized labels with a hotel’s name or logo embroidered on top of the soles. Originally we tried to limit extra features and packaging in order to deliver the best prices possible to clients, but in the end, the customer is always right. Now a variety of sizes, models, colours, styles and personalisation options are available. The product line is one of the company’s most popular and sales are exploding.

from Caractère Paris

Slippers with Logo

Currently, Caractère offers the slippers in a basic white edition for men, women and children, both in open and closed toe models. For luxury clients, a special design was created, in addition to a black colour version. For clients with bulk quantity orders, logo customisation remains an option. Of course with all large volume orders, a special discount is applied. Please contact us directly for more information.

Caractère Hostellerie has manufactured disposable and reusable supplies for the hotel, salon, spa and beauty industries since 1993. Our high quality products, low prices, attention to detail and reputation for rapid and friendly customer service have enabled the company to expand to all major Western European markets, including France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and now the UK and Ireland.

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