Why is it that so many Americans go to Japan and declare that removing shoes in homes is wonderful, while so many other Americans go to Sweden (and Norway) and complain about having to remove their shoes in every home they visit.
It may be because of the different sorts of ex-pat that settle in Japan and Sweden respectively, but I have no idea what difference that would be.
It is nothing to do with the weather; winters in northern Japan are very cold and Japanese homes are much less likely than Swedish homes to have central heating. You are far more likely to get cold feet in a Japanese home.
It may be that Japanese come across as more polite or likeable than Swedish people. Better not go to far that way, or I might offend any Swedish visitors.
I think it has a lot to do with expectations. Everyone who goes to Japan knows that shoes need to be removed in Japanese homes. Not so many people know about removing shoes in Sweden, so people going there may not be psychologically prepared for the change of custom.
I suspect racial attitudes may come into it.
Japanese people look different to most westerners. We expect them to have strange and exotic customs. The exoticism of removing shoes in Japanese homes may come across as a quaint and aesthetically pleasing custom.
Not so the Swedish custom. The Swedes look like westerners, except in being demographically more fair-haired. we expect them to behave in a western manner and not have the sort of strange, exotic customs that we expect in Japan or Thailand.
The Swedes just come across as an whole nation of those awful westerners who expect you to remove their shoes to protect their wretched carpets.
The sort of westerner I am. And the sort of westerner that is becoming increasingly more common. The future is bright under a midnight sun, the future is Nordic.