Category Archives: Shopping

Hollywood Movie Tabi

47 Ronin, Wolverine movies featuring jikatabi
47 Ronin, Wolverine movies featuring jikatabi

Here at Japan Store we deal mainly with individual customers who just love to stand out from the crowd in their jikatabi. We often get larger orders from theater and opera companies putting on a Japanese-themed production or just after a different kind of look. But every now and again we get a slightly different kind of order.

A couple of years ago we got an order from a movie production company that was buying up all sorts of Japanese items for an upcoming Keanu Reeves vehicle, featuring a cast that includes some of the most talented actors in Japan. Unfortunately the production of “47 Ronin” has been beset by setbacks and has still not hit movie theaters. But we’re assured that it’s on the way and that you’ll be able to see a host of top stars wearing our jikatabi this Christmas.

If you just can’t wait to see Hollywood-meets-Japanese-footwear, we also supplied jikatabi to the company that made the Hugh Jackman X-Men flick “The Wolverine“, which is currently showing here in Ireland. We also recently shipped some items to Disney in California, who will be using them in the movie “Tomorrowland“, planned for release next year.

And this week we’ve received some orders from a company based at Pinewood Studios in the UK. So far no official word on what the movie will be, but we here at Japan Store have our suspicions. And regardless of the movie, we’re always happy to see our jikatabi being worn on the big screen.

Summer matsuri rush

Matsuri kids
Kids wearing traditional matsuri clothing.

It’s another hot one! Thermometers across Japan are reaching new heights as the country is hit by yet another scorching summer heat wave. But that isn’t stopping anyone from enjoying one of the annual highlights of just about any community in Japan, the matsuri. These street festivals are full of sound and frenzied activity, with the sounds of drums, whistles and flutes. Street vendors do a roaring trade in festival foods like okonomiyaki, yakisoba, taiyaki and kakigori. And most of the festival participants, the guys and gals who carry the o-mikoshi (floats), will be wearing traditional clothing. And in most cases that includes jikatabi.

The distinctive split-toe boots, in their many varieties, are our No.1 seller on this store. But with the rush of orders that always come in from matsuri organizers, our suppliers sometimes get overwhelmed and stocks run low. Right now that means we have difficulty getting many sizes of the cushioned matsuri tabi models (particularly the Double Cushion, Cushion III and Air Tabi Fit models from Rikio). Other safety and general work models are not affected by this seasonal situation.

So if you’re looking for a cushioned model from Rikio, you may have to bear with us until we get back to normal stock levels. The good news is that we’ll still be able to fulfill most orders over the next month, and that everything should be back to normal by mid-August.

If you have any questions about stock levels or what model of jikatabi to choose, please feel free to drop me a line.

Mark McBennett
Japan Zone

Order #20000!

In time-honored Japanese tradition…banzai, banzai, BANZAI!!

Banzai Cat
Banzai Cat

Congratulations to Ms. N. W. of West Virginia who today placed order #20000 on Japan Store. We didn’t run any kind of promotion campaign around this milestone order number, but we will be sending this customer a few extra goodies and upgrading the shipping to Express Mail just to mark the occasion.

Of course we couldn’t have got to the magical number of 20,000 without all the thousands of customers along the way. So on behalf of the Banzai Cat and all of us here at Japan Zone, I’d like to take this opportunity to send a big Thank You to all Japan Store’s loyal customers!

Mark McBennett
President, Japan Zone

Feeding the Snake

2013 Year of the Snake
2013 Year of the Snake
Welcome to 2013, the Year of the Snake! Unfortunately the Japan Store snake has been busy feeding on bugs over the last couple of weeks. Software bugs that were causing some issues with our popular range of jikatabi products since mid-December. Thankfully it looks like the bugs are finally gone and you should now have no trouble ordering those cool Rikio Fighters or Marugo Sports Jogs. And I’d like to extend my apologies to all of you who tried in vain to order them over the holidays, along with a peace offering – a $5 voucher good on any order over $29 (which covers any jikatabi product you can think of). Just enter JS-SNAKE2013 when you checkout and you’re good to go. The voucher is good until the end of January.

Thanks as always for your patience.

President, Japan Zone

How to Wash your Hanten

“Do I have to have my hanten dry cleaned?” is a question we sometimes get here at Japan Store. Fortunately, the answer is no. But if you just stick it in the washing machine, it will suffer some damage, especially to the cotton padding. And of course the insulation quality of the padding is a major reason why you wear the hanten in the first place, right? So read on and we’ll explain how a few simple steps can ensure that your hanten stays warm and clean for years to come.

Wash a hanten1. With the hanten folded as shown in the photo, handwash in a sink or large basin. Gently push it into the water until it is soaked through, and remove any obvious dirt and stains. Use cold or warm water and a mild (neutral) detergent. Bleach is a definite no-no.

Wash a hanten2. Without squeezing too vigorously or stretching the fabric, drain the water from the hanten. Place in a laundry net large enough to hold the folded hanten as shown.

Wash a hanten3. Use your washing machine’s spin feature to drain most of the remaining water from the hanten. Use the shortest spin cycle setting. Ensure that you do not use your washing machine’s dryer feature if it has one, as this will damage the cotton padding.

Wash a hanten4. Hang out to dry, outdoors if at all possible and as shown in the photo. The more the hanten is spread out, the better it will keep its shape and the less likely that the cotton padding will dry in clumps. Hang until the outer fabric is dry, then turn over to expose the inner lining and allow to dry fully. This will ensure that the cotton padding dries and retains its volume.

Wash a hanten5. If you must dry the hanten on a hanger, make sure it is a rounded type and not a skinny type as shown. Again, this will help the hanten maintain its shape and prevent the padding from drying in clumps.

Occasional washing as described above will ensure that your hanten stays as warm and stylish as the day you bought it. See our selection of mens and ladies hanten.

The Ideal Winter Jacket

Hanten Jackets
Hanten Jackets

If you’re thinking of splashing out on a down or fleece jacket this winter, you might want to think again. For a century and a half the humble hanten has been a staple of many a Japanese wardrobe. And some recent research by one of the country’s top hanten makers illustrates just why that is.

For several years here at Japan Store we have carried hanten made by Kuwano Shinken Sangyo, who market their handmade jackets under the brand name Watanosato (“The Home of Cotton”). They come in a variety of traditional patterns and comply to the strict specifications that allow them to be classified as Kurume Kasuri and distinguish them from cheaper hanten, mostly made in China. One specification is that the padding must contain at least 50% cotton. Watanosato hanten contain 70% cotton, with 30% polyester to ensure the padding keeps its volume and insulation qualities for many years of use. So just how warm are they?

Hanten Jackets

The company carried out tests to compare the insulation qualities of three types of jackets. They used one of their own hanten and compared it to a fleece jacket and a down jacket, both from popular brand Uniqlo. With an ambient room temperature of about 15 degrees Celcius, skin temperature was measured both before and while wearing the different jackets for a period of 30 minutes using a thermographic camera. The image below shows clearly that the hanten keeps you consistently warmer (for geeks, the table of data is at the bottom of the post).

Hanten Jackets

So this winter try on a traditional hanten and enjoy the warmth that has insulated Japanese people for over 150 years. See our selection of mens and ladies hanten.

Test Data

Hanten Jackets

Temp(℃) Hanten Fleece Down
Room Temp. Skin Temp. Room Temp. Skin Temp. Room Temp. Skin Temp.
0min 14.9 30.67 14.9 30.33 14.5 29.77
1min 15.1 33.11 14.6 31.96 14.6 32.08
2min 15.0 33.81 14.5 32.53 14.8 32.6
3min 15.0 33.73 14.7 32.92 14.7 32.92
4min 14.7 33.98 14.9 33.27 14.5 33.13
5min 14.4 34.25 14.8 32.96 14.5 33.36
6min 14.7 34.5 14.5 33.32 14.7 33.49
7min 15.1 34.77 14.4 33.47 14.9 33.32
8min 15.2 34.95 14.6 32.39 14.7 33.41
9min 15.0 35.08 14.9 32.06 14.5 33.89
10min 14.8 34.92 14.8 32.39 14.6 34.09
11min 14.7 35.15 14.5 33.21 14.9 34.16
12min 14.9 35.28 14.4 33.51 14.9 34.03
13min 14.9 35.32 14.6 33.59 14.7 34.08
14min 14.8 35.35 14.8 33.65 14.5 34.1
15min 14.5 35.42 14.7 33.29 14.7 34.26
16min 14.6 35.49 14.5 32.89 14.9 34.42
17min 14.9 35.41 14.5 32.82 14.7 34.48
18min 14.9 35.35 14.7 33.11 14.5 34.44
19min 14.7 35.41 14.8 33.38 14.5 34.43
20min 14.5 35.5 14.7 33.63 14.7 34.63
21min 14.6 35.6 14.4 33 14.9 34.61
22min 14.8 35.7 14.5 33.41 14.9 34.58
23min 14.7 35.72 14.7 33.25 14.8 34.57
24min 14.5 35.76 14.8 32.9 14.7 34.56
25min 14.5 35.57 14.8 33.57 14.5 34.56
26min 14.7 35.75 14.7 33.67 14.7 34.45
27min 14.8 35.8 14.6 33.7 14.8 34.38
28min 14.7 35.81 14.4 33.28 14.8 34.43
29min 14.5 35.9 14.4 33.59 14.8 34.48
30min 14.5 35.97 14.9 33.73 14.9 34.55

How to Wear Tabi

Tabi are the traditional split-toe footwear of Japan, and are worn by both men and women. They’re worn by themselves when indoors, and with a wide variety of footwear – such as geta, zori or setta sandals, or jikatabi boots – when outdoors. Plain tabi, in white, black or navy, are the most common but they also come in many different colorful patterns.

You can find a huge selection of all of these footwear items in our Japan Store.

Putting on tabi can seem a bit tricky until you get used to it. So we put together this quick visual guide to the easiest way to wear tabi. As you might spot from the photos, tabi fit more like socks than shoes so it’s important to get the right size. Basically the size you choose should be just a few millimeters longer than the length of your foot. See this page for more info on how to choose your tabi size.

The photos below are of a regular cotton tabi, but it works exactly the same way for jikatabi as well. When wearing medium or taller jikatabi, if you find they’re too tight around the ankle and/or calf, you can use our Hase Plus to give you an inch or more room and ensure a perfect fit!

And if your tabi or jikatabi are a little too loose, you can try wearing them with tabi socks or toe socks. Tabi insoles and insulating liners are another way to adjust the feel and fit of your jikatabi.

How to wear tabi1. Fold the tabi upper toward the toes until it is about 3-4cm behind the split between the toes (red line). The seam should line up with the split (purple line).

How to wear tabi2. Holding the point on both sides where the upper and the sole meet, slide your foot into the tabi, ensuring that your big toe and other toes fit into the split toe area separately.

How to wear tabi3. Raise your heel and pull both sides of the tabi upper where it meets the sole. Your toes should now be fitting snugly with little or no wrinkling of the tabi material.

How to wear tabi4. Sit and place your heel on the floor facing away from the opposite leg. Flex your ankle so that your toes point upward.

How to wear tabi5. Grasp the tabi around your ankle with the same hand (ie. for right foot use right hand) using your thumb to hold down the rear flap of the tabi containing the cotton hooks.

How to wear tabi6. With the opposite hand place the kohaze (metal tabs) into the correct cotton hooks. Start with the bottommost kohaze and work up. Most tabi have 4 or 5 kohaze. This is the trickiest part and will get easier with practice. It is important to get all the kohaze correctly fitted to ensure that the tabi will not easily come off.

How to wear tabi7. You’re done! If you’re wearing tabi for the first time, they may feel strange or even a little uncomfortable between the toes but you will quickly get used to this. Only tabi that are specifically “stretch tabi” are made of a material that will stretch somewhat like a sock. But even regular cotton tabi can be stretched slightly by pulling them diagonally both ways before wearing them. There will probably be some slight shrinkage when they are washed.

Sock Prices Slashed!

Tabi socks

Some of our customers in colder climes have started ordering insulated jikatabi liners to keep out the winter chills. But for most of us heading into the winter season, we can get by with insulated jikatabi or by adding a pair of tabi socks or toe socks. So we’ve decided to make that a little easier by reducing prices right across our range of socks. On average, prices have been cut by about 20%, and even more if you order several pairs becase many of our socks originally come in packs of 4 or 5 pairs.

The plain black and white tabi socks continue to be the most popular in all sizes. But we are considering whether to expand our range of socks with colorful designs. So do let us know if you’re interested in pattern or themed tabi socks for ladies or for men.

Check out our range of tabi socks and toe socks.

Go Japanese This Halloween

Hanya Demon MaskWith Halloween just over a month away, this seems like a good time to plug our selection of handmade Japanese masks. We have a selection of demons and goblins who feature in the many popular folktales familiar to everyone in Japan. The designs originate in the traditional theater forms of noh and kagura dance, but they’re just as well suited to scaring the daylights out of kids and adults alike.

There is something beautifully creepy about the hanya masks in particular. Based on the legend of a woman transformed into a demon by jealousy, the horns of her jealousy are still symbolically present on the heads of unmarried Japanese women. Hence the white headpiece that is worn by the bride to hide them in the traditional Japanese wedding.

Of course, Halloween doesn’t mean you have to dress up to be scary. So our variety of tabi, jikatabi and other ninja gear can be combined to dress up as a stealthy Japanese assassin.

Golden Week Holidays

Most businesses in Japan close down for the annual Golden Week holidays. This year, the holidays run from April 29 to May 6. Japan Store will remain open for business but during that time most of our suppliers will be closed so deliveries of orders will probably be delayed. We will do what we can to get orders shipped out as quickly as humanly possible but we ask for your patience over the next week or so.