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Cool Japan / ‘Jika-tabi’ footwear becomes the rage to walk like a Japanese

Sandal-type jika-tabi (Erina Ito)
(Sandal-type jika-tabi)

KYOTO--It's becoming comfortable and stylish to "walk like a Japanese," in traditional “jika-tabi” split-toe footwear that has long given much-needed traction and comfort to construction workers and miners.
The Japanese-style work shoe can be found in one of the clothing stores and assorted sundries shops in Shinkyogoku district here that are operated by apparel brand Sou Sou. The name of the shop selling the shoes is “Sou Sou Tabi.”
Sandal-type jika-tabi (Erina Ito)
(Jika-tabi that can be fit to the feet with hook-and-loop fasteners)

“I learned about ‘tabi' shoes from one of my yoga friends. I like them because they are easy for me to walk in and take a balanced stance,” said a 40-year-old French woman who visited the shop.

“I also bought three pairs in Paris,” she added.

Jika-tabi, in which rubber is pasted on the bottom of shoes for added traction, spread among workers in the Taisho Era (1912-1926). In addition, the shoe is divided into two portions--one for the big toe and the other for the remaining toes. The design and softness of the shoe makes it comfortable for wearers to walk around in and be able to grip and feel the ground with assurance.
Sandal-type jika-tabi (Erina Ito)
(A variety of tabi socks)

The functionality and the shape attracted Sou Sou President Takeshi Wakabayashi, 44. After working at a clothing company and operating a shop, he established Sou Sou in 2002, saying, “I want to promote Japanese-style designs suitable for contemporary lives."

In 2003, he opened his first shop in Tokyo. Soon after, he began to sell jika-tabi.

Wakabayashi did not change the shape of the footwear, thinking its functionality had already been perfected. So he exercised his ingenuity in design, including the linings, as he also wanted to show them off in some of the footwear.
Sandal-type jika-tabi (Erina Ito)
(A lining of a jika-tabi shoe is shown.)

The colorful and fashionable linings became a hit among women and foreigners who had not been familiar with jika-tabi. Customers also enjoyed being able to choose from among nearly 100 designs.

Wakabayashi also produced jika-tabi for other intended purposes besides a work boot, such as to be worn as slippers and as athletic shoes. ...
Full story via AJW Link: http://ajw.asahi.com/article/cool_japan/culture/AJ201205230010


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By TS on Jun 1, 2012
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