Let’s talk shoes

I love shoes. I don’t care what type, I love love love me some shoes. My first time living in Japan for a long time, I calculated I bought so many shoes it was at least one pair every two weeks. ^_^;;

Shoe sizing in Japan

What size am I and can I buy shoes?

This converter is accurate for number sizing here

Now then there’s letter sizing for many of shoes in Japan which is as follows: S – M – L – LL
Gilfy says S to LL is: S:22.5cm ・ M:23.5cm ・ L:24.5cm ・ LL: 25cm

For example I’m an 8.5 US which makes me a 24.5 or an L in Japan. Of course this can vary from shoe to shoe, but it’s pretty truthful.

Many 109 stores only sell shoes up to an L size, but sometimes its only M. Cocolulu had a cute Nike sneaker last year and they only went up to an M, also Glad News tends to go up to an M although their M can be roomy.

So if you’re over a 9, you’re outta luck in Japan.

I’m an LL where do I shop?

Bonita in 109-2 and Shinjuku Alta carry a good selection of LL shoes. Randa (locations), however, has an amazing LL selection. Randa on Takeshita above Happy House has such a great shoe amount and plenty of booths to sit down and take your time trying on shoes.

Bonus! Both stores are pretty cheap by Japanese standards.

I want leather shoes

Most of the time, good luck on that. LDS sometimes does leather, or the most realistic fake leather I’ve ever felt. There’s also a Nine West on Omotesando, but their prices are high. Prepare to pay the price for leather.

What’s a good shoe in Japan?

First of all it’s important to consider the streets of Japan.

They suck! They’re tilted, craggy and have guides for the blind around busy areas such as train stations. The guides for the blind are excellent and it’s amazing watching the blind navigate some of the busiest train stations on their own, but it’s hell on shoes.

The left pic shows the bars and bumps for the blind. These really hurt after a while.

Examples of good shoes and why:

The strapped pump
Brand: Bonita
Heel height: 3 inches (8 cm)

These have a solid heel along with a great snap in and out of strap. This helps since you have to take off your shoes in Japanese dressing rooms and houses. The bottom of the sole is rubberized and textured for traction and some protection from the blind bumps.

Brand: Randa
Heel height: 4 inches (10 cm)
Platfom: .5 inch (1.5 cm)

The platform keeps you safe from blind bumps. Also, the straps hold you in, keeping down blisters from slippage. My perfect gal pump.

Gal tip: Remember when buying straps to buy them low the two above and not fastening at the ankle. Ankle straps make your legs look shorter.

The classic pump

Brand: Rossessence (RE)
Heel height: 2.5 inches (6.5 cm)

The heel is perfect for a long walk, but there is no platform so the blind bumps can get painful. This can be solved with a great thick insole in the toe.

Sexy Sandals

Brand: Bonita
Heel height: 3 inches (8 cm)

Some toe padding, and mules are easy to walk in. Make sure you buy a tight enough mule so you’re not slipping around.

Brand: Flag-J
Heel height: 4 inches (10 cm)
Platform: 1 inch (2.5 cm)

I just got these resoled (more later). These have a cushioned toe base making them amazingly comfortable. The ankle strap and wedge add stability. My all time favorite sandal. Gilfy also has cushioned toe bases in all their shoes, which makes their very tall platforms pretty easy to walk in.

Shoe care:
Three of the shoes above have been resoled and cleaned up. For about 14.0o USD it’s a great way of keeping the shoes you love looking nice. No one looks hot with busted shoes. If they’re a classic, don’t buy new just redo!


Insoles: An absolute must!

The ones on the left are my favorite. I have high arches and these provide arch support and heel comfort as well. The heel gel inserts on the left help slipping and are concealed easy in sandals. Bonita will give you free insoles if you ask for them when buying a shoe, most of the time they’re cheap and wear out but hey, they’re free and they also are usually made with charcoal to help foot odor!

Tokyu Hands (Shibuya store) has several insole options if you need a pair in Japan. They’re a bit pricier than in the US, but their selection is good.

Pump stockings

Sweating and rubbing causes blisters, so Japanese heel socks are a must in the summer. Cheap Muji has several options with extra toe and heel support built in. Tip: double up if 1 pair isn’t working for you. Shinjuku store: (東京都渋谷区 神宮前 1-12-7 B1~2F, take a right after leaving the Kabukicho exit. It’s about 2 streets past Alta on the same road).

If you’re curious:

Most apartments have a shoe closet, here’s mine.

Left to right: Nike Pink Air Jordans, Brooks Running shoe
Marc by Marc flipflops, Pink havianas, Randa heels, Bonita Heels, R&E heels
Flag-J sandals, Bonita mules

I have a lot of room to fill ^_^v!

Then again you can ignore my info. I saw a woman yesterday walking the streets of Shibuya in limited edition 2005 Louis Vuitton perforated peep-toes. She was working it, but I felt bad for those precious limiteds. Save the designer for when you’re in a car.

1 Comment

  1. Bre
    August 31, 2010 / 12:02 am

    This post helped me enormously, thank you! :mrgreen:
    I’m leaving to go study abroad in Kyoto for 6 months next week and I was curious about the shoe situation there.
    I’m unfortunately out of luck, because of my stupid size 10 (or thanks to your helpful guide, 26.5cm!) feet :(
    But I appreciate the information regardless. I’ll have to check out those places like in Harajuku when I get over there again finally.

    Thanks again! <3

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