TRG Info and Advice

Getabako (shoe storage chest/lockers)

What is getabako?

At restaurants in Japan, especially at Japanese-style izakaya pubs restaurant chains, where customers are required to take off their shoes before sitting down at the table, getabako are often placed at the entrance. A Getabako is a piece of furniture for storing shoes, which can be seen in general Japanese households, too.

Getabakos in Japanese homes are usually small chests shared with family members, but getabakos at restaurants, used by many unrelated people, are a large assembly of small shoe lockers for individuals. The key for the locker is usually a wooden plate. Upon removal of the key, after placing the shoes inside, the locker is locked. Each guest needs to keep the key, but its large size helps prevent loss. The key bears the same number as the locker, so guests neither get confused nor open the wrong one. Because the boxes are locked, guests do not need to worry about the loss of their shoes.

This getabako system has been in use at public baths or rakugo theatres from long ago. It is not clear how the system was introduced to izakaya restaurants today, but getabakos supposedly appeared because they make it possible to store shoes efficiently and the traditional system matches the izakaya atmosphere.

How to use getabako

• Choose any unlocked shoe box.

• Open the box and place your shoes inside.

• Close the box and take out the wooden plate key to lock.

• Return the wooden plate key to unlock the box.

• Open the box and take your shoes out.