Until the early 20th century, Japanese people wore tabi instead of Western-style socks. Tabi are socks for Japanese sandals that are worn with kimonos. The front part of the socks are split in two; one part for the big toe, and the other for the smaller toes.
Jika-tabi, in which a rubber sole is sewn on the bottom of tabi so they can be worn outside like shoes, have also been made. They are easy to wash, and because they are split-toe footwear, they fit well and make it easy to put weight on the toes. For this reason, they are used regularly by professionals who work at construction sites and people who carry portable shrines during festivals. They also are drawing attention outside Japan, by the name of “ninja shoes”.
Jika-tabi are light and won’t tire you out easily. These characteristics of jika-tabi have recently once again been recognized, and fashionable jika-tabi that match current fashion trends are now being made.
Many of these jika-tabi are modern, colorful, and look fashionable with Western clothes, just like sneakers. Traditional jika-tabi have fasteners that run from the calf down to the heel called “kohaze”, which are used to adjust jika-tabi to fit your legs and feet in lieu of shoelaces. Newer products with modern designs also have kohaze, in addition to models that can be easily put on like slip-on shoes.
There are also jika-tabi for indoor use, such as slippers and room shoes that are shaped like tabi. These products can be purchased at shops, department stores, and airport shops that carry small Japanese trinkets. Find your favorite modern jika-tabi from the large selection of colors and patterns!