The Little Shoe in Kyoto

I love to travel. I’ve been traveling extensively since I was 19. One of the things I knew I couldn’t give up, widow or no widow, was traveling. Of course these days it means I take my kiddos with me, and people’s eyeballs pop out when they find out the ratio of one adult (me) to my three kids.

This past winter break was spent in Japan.


We were in Kyoto for the New Year and on the way back from visiting Chion-in, we realized the baby (I call him our “baby,” but he’ll actually be 2 in a few days) lost one of his shoes. AKA he kicked a shoe off. He always freaking does that. This kid would live barefoot if he could. Here’s the culprit himself:


The next day, New Year’s Day, I had to go looking for a department store. He needed shoes. It was winter (cold!) and he needed to be able to walk on the ground. I couldn’t keep him locked up in the Ergo on my back forever. We went to Himeji to visit Himeji Castle, and fortunately there was indeed a department store that was open.

$50 and a new, ugly pair of shoes later, we were good.

A day or two later, the kids and I were walking around our neighborhood in Kyoto. Suddenly my daughter yelled out, “There’s Peter Jack’s shoe!”

Sure enough, his missing shoe had been placed on the side of the road, waiting for its owner to reclaim it.


That’s Japan in a nutshell. Thoughtful, kind, and patient. An American would have chucked the shoe into the trash can.

So we left with an extra pair of shoes. Now one of the “ugly” ones is missing somewhere in our van. The struggle is real.


  1. “baby” is destined for New Zealand one day I’d say. People walk barefoot everywhere in Nz, from the supermarket to restaurants. Even around workplace.!

    There are many reasons for this, ranging from the Maori connecting with nature, to the cleanliness of the country. (winter exclusions apply..!)


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