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Those tabi boot things with crappy rubber soles are sold as novelties. Those are not how tabi were used back then, nor now really.

Japan has a pretty warm climate, the average winter low is like 40 degrees F. Traditional tabi were used like socks. Something to keep your feet warm when you were wearing the geta sandals that were so common. Geta were easy to make, just need some material you can weave like reeds and some time and poof – shoes. These are some they sell in Japan, which as you can see, look like socks. They are worn now with traditional clothing for a festival or a traditional wedding ceremony.

There is some traction advantage with the split toes, you can get a better grip on the grown with your toes if the sole is decent. Construction workers still sometimes wear jika-tabi a special kind of outdoor tabi like these. It’s hard to find any decent ones over here, but I’ve heard of steel toe work tabi.

I like my Vibram FiveFingers, much better if I want a grip on the ground with toes and don’t want to tear up my feet with rocks.


Tabi aren’t unique to Japan, and they’ve been around for a while.

BTW, tweva, extremely envious of the training you’re getting in stealth walking :-)
I’d love to learn that from someone who knows what they are about, but no one teaches it around here.

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