Jika Tabi

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  • 地下足袋 Jika-tabi

Jikatabi are working shoes devised in Japan. The tip of the footwear is separated, dividing the big toe from the rest, hence engaging a firm grip on the ground. These shoes have always been popular among craftsmen and workers outdoors. In the past, the shoes are made with cloth, worn by ninjas as they do not make much sounds, hence known as ninja shoes. You can buy them at jikatabi specialty stores.

地下足袋 Jika-tabi
Today, they are worn with Japanese kimono. There are also tabi designed as outdoor footwear, which are called jika-tabi. The Japanese word combines jika (直) meaning “direct” in Japanese and tabi. The kanji characters used today for jika (地下) are used as a phonetic symbol rather than its meaning. The jika-tabi are made of tough materials and have rubber soles. They fit quite snugly and are light and quiet, so they are still worn by craftsmen, carpenters and plasterers who work outside. 

If you come across a construction site in Japan, be sure to check the workers’ footwear. They will probably be wearing jika-tabi. Outside Japan, they are sold under the name “ninja boots,” but unfortunately ninja did not wear them because the jika-tabi was first made in the 1920’s. (Tabi existed since around 1000. 

Ninja are said to have been active around 1300 to 1850) Although jika-tabi are suitable for workers, they have recently been designed like shoes with a wider variety of patterns, which have become popular in Europe especially in the fashionable country of France. Unfortunately they are not sold in ordinary shoe stores, but fashionable jika-tabi can be found at SOUSOU shops located in many places around Japan. We invite you to stop by when shopping in Japan.

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