Tobiishi: Japanese Garden Stepping Stones for the Home

Taking off your shoes before you enter the home is considered polite in many cultures. But it’s also more hygienic. If you live in a Japanese home though, surely you’ve experienced it: that awkward balancing act when someone comes to the door but you don’t want to put your foot down in the genkan so you perform a straddle maneuver to reach the door. Now there’s a better – shall I even say more ‘Zen’ – way.

Some Japanese homes keep a pair of slippers in the lowered genkan area between home and door specifically for receiving packages or greeting visitors. But Tobiishi replaces those ugly things. Borrowing its name from the stepping stones found in Japanese gardens, Tobiishi “creates a designated, comfortable & clean spot to temporarily step upon, so you can answer the door effortlessly.”

Made with a slip-resistant base, Tobiishi was designed by Tokyo-based British designer Duncan Shotton, the creator behind the soy shape and other whimsical ideas. It’s made from soft bi-cast leather and comes in 3 shades of grey, each with a speckled, stone-like surface finish to “silently communicate this new invention’s function to users.” They’re available online for £14.95 (or about 2000 yen).

Stepping stones are a key element of Japanese gardens that control the pace and mood of the user. Depending on the garden, they’re said to be 60% practical and 40% aesthetic, or vice-versa. I think the same could be said about these stepping stones.


  1. I was brought up to always take my shoes off. We were never allowed to walk in the house with shoes, and apart from on special occasions we entered our family home via the back door. So, relating to the Japanese is actually not tricky for me at all.

  2. Really nice things! Other cultures can`t quite relate to that, in America society there isn`t something similar and you need to “get dirty”

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