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Japanese culture mandates that people should remove their shoes when entering homes and other buildings, especially where the floors may have rugs, polished wood floors, or tatami (grass mats). Uwabaki are light, flexible shoes which are easy to slip on and off, designated for indoor use. As they are not generally worn outside, the soles are kept clean, and thus cleaning and maintenance of the building's floors are kept to a minimum.
At the entrance of every school, from preschool to college, there is an assigned locker for each student to put his or her uwabaki. A student's grade level is often indicated by a colored stripe across the toes; the body color of the slipper is always white.
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