Before I came to Japan, I have never owned a pair of room slippers. In Singapore, we keep our shoes on in the office and the weather is warm enough year round so you don’t need them at home. I remember stepping into my first company in Japan with my shoes on only to be asked to change into the room slippers they have for guests.
My first slipper was from Muji. It had cost ¥500. They weren’t my favourite piece of belonging in the world, but they did their job. They lasted a total of one year and 7 months before the footbed started to wear through. Threads on the bottom started to go loose and they smelled horrible even right after washing. In my journey of minimalism, I wanted to own less things but I always wanted everything I did own to be meaningful and a joy to have. I did my research, even considering purchasing the same one from Muji.
The most luxurious choice I came across was this Leather Double-soled Slippers from LL Bean. They are the most expensive ones I considered, but very viable if you are familiar with LL Bean’s spectacular customer service and liberal repair policies. The deal breaker was that they were closed-in slippers, so I couldn’t put them on as easily as I liked to. I had to change footwear when heading to the washroom outside my office, so I didn’t want to put these on multiple times and risk stretching them. Leather also seem like they would make the slippers smell during warm, sticky summers.
I ended up going with Amsterdam from Birkenstock (¥8100), mainly due to the fact that I could get them repaired in Japan. Though repair was not available if the suede upper gets damage, I was told. I had to get their largest size.
I still have plenty of stuff, clothes being my biggest achilles heel. But I have come some way in changing the way I consume things. Especially when I used to work in the advertising industry, lunchtime conversations consist mainly of office gossip, complaints and things to buy. Throughout the day, I was looking at sites trying to find the next cool gear to acquire. I was motivated to earn money so I could buy things that I end up not using. It was a vicious cycle. Don’t get me wrong. Humans live to consume. Everything that gives you some joy in your life involves consumption. It’s not about not consuming, but about consuming things that will give your life meaning. And you can start by buying home slippers that you like.