This was taken after my yudofu dinner while I was in Kyoto last month with some friends. It was actually a subtemple of Nanzenji, which had become a restaurant, so the surroundings were spectacular.
Taking off shoes before entering houses or rooms is universal in Japan. Historically I think it is because Japan gets a lot of rain, and their main type of flooring was tatami - made of straw - which is really susceptible to damage.
It does offer up some unique spectacles though - the paramedics rushing into my school to pick up an extremely sick student, pausing in the doorway while carrying a stretcher to slip out of their shoes - the workmen who walk barefoot around building sites to protect a newly laid floor, but not their own feet - or the makeshift tents of the homeless men in Ueno park, their shoes sitting neatly outside their neatly constructed entranceway, still adhering to the mores of a society that has forgotten them.
I myself have three pairs of shoes for work!
This is definitely one of the recurring themes in my pictures.