What is Tabi Shoes?

History of Tabi Shoes

“Tabi” is traditional Japanese socks whose origin is said to have been in the footwear worn by Japanese nobles over 1000 years ago. Although it is not clearly known why Tabi separate the big toe from the others, one theory claims that it is because traditional outdoor Japanese footwear also had the same form, therefore, the socks was required to have the toes separated.

In the late 19th century, a new style “Jika-tabi” evolved as outdoor shoes when a thin rubber layer was sewn onto the Tabi’s sole. The custom of wearing of Jika-tabi soon prevailed widely throughout Japan. However, with the arrival of Western-style shoes in Japan, the use of Jika-tabi soon declined dramatically in popularity though it is still considered essential footwear for people such as rickshaw drivers and gardeners as well as on festival occasions.

“Tabi Shoes” was born by adapting the advantages of the original characteristics of Jika-tabi with a design and shape that perfectly suit a modern lifestyle.

What is special about Jika-tabi (Tabi Shoes)?

The two most outstanding and unique features of Jika -tabi is that the big toe and the other four toes are separated, and that how the shoes fit to feet can be adjusted at the ankle by clasps called “kohaze” which are hooked into string loops. Other noteworthy features include an upper made of cotton fabric layered with an outer lining and a soft sole that makes it easy for wearers to feel the ground.

Evolved from traditional Jika-tabi, Tabi Shoes that Shop TABI-JI offers are produced with a variety of materials as they are designed to be perfect for our daily life – some are made with materials other than cotton fabric while some have thicker soles.

Different Types of Tabi Shoes at Shop TABI-JI

Jika-tabi type

The shoes we offer at Shop TABI-JI evolved from Jika-tabi. Jika-tabi are designed for those who seek ease and stability when a lot of movement is required, just like when they are worn at festivals and by rickshaw drivers. Kohaze clasps are used as fasteners. Some Jika-tabi have six or seven kohaze clasps.
See Jika-tabi type

Narrow type

This type combines the function of Jika Tabi with sports shoes. Though the soles are thicker than other models, the combination of rubber and EVA makes them extremely lightweight. Compared to other Shop TABI-JI’s shoes, these high-cut models have a narrower form and come with seven kohaze clasps.
See Narrow type

Wide type

With a flat sole and deck shoe-like grip, these shoes are wider than Shop TABI-JI’s other models. Three kohaze clasps are attached. They provide a relatively relaxed fit on your feet while adding an insole (sold separately) is also good if the wearer prefers a more firm and comfortable fit.
See Wide type

Waterproof type

It is an all-weather model that can be worn comfortably on rainy days, outdoors, and in any other situation.
See Waterproof type

Velcro tape type

These Tabi Shoes for children use Velcro instead of kohaze clasps making it easy for children to put on and take off by themselves.
See Velcro tape type

Seamless tube type

This type of Tabi Shoes doesn’t use fabric like ordinary Tabi Shoes, but is made of stretchy material woven into a tube shape with no seams which provides a unique and comfortable fit. The soles are thin, therefore, just like when wearing Jika-tabi, the wearer can feel as if their feet “grab” the ground.
See Seamless tube type

Others (Shoelace type, Slip-on type, Pumps type)

See Shoelace type See Slip-on type See Pumps type