Tabi are traditional Japanese socks featuring a separation between the big toe and the other toes.
Looking at their history, we see that early Tabi were pouch-shaped footwear with no separation between the toes. These Tabi originated in China and were introduced to Japan via the Korean Peninsula. Around 1592, the shape of Tabi changed and the toe separation appeared. The separation is thought to have been introduced so that the Tabi could be worn with thonged footwear such as Geta or Zori or to enable the Samurai to plant their feet firmly on the ground on the battlefield. In addition, Tabi were worn for protection from cold or injuries. To this day, Tabi are still worn with traditional clothing, as they have been through their entire history.
To help you understand the concept of Tabi, let us compare them with other footwear. For example, regular socks are made with synthetic fibers and knitted, making them elastic. By contrast, Tabi are made from 100% cotton and sewn. Thus, Tabi cover the foot and don’t stretch like regular socks. Made from natural fibers, Tabi wick away sweat and maintain your skin’s natural moisture while preventing foot odor. Indeed, when you wear Tabi, you will find that the structure of Tabi protects your feet. Their structure prevents them from slipping off and helps raise your awareness of your toes. You will naturally use your toes more. In contrast to indoor shoes like slippers, Tabi include no cushioning materials at the bottom; therefore, you will feel the floor beneath your feet more as you would with bare feet.
The sensation of feeling the ground is enhanced further with Tabi outdoor shoes and Tabi running shoes. As part of the evolution of Tabi, they have acquired greater usefulness and protective features over time. With continued use, the soles of your feet will become less sensitive with cushioning soles of regular shoes, but your awareness of the ground will increase with Tabi.
Heels, cushioning materials, and insoles ― these are features you probably expect from regular shoes. However, Tabi are flat from the toe to the heel, the forefoot part is wider, and they have a thin sole with no cushioning materials. Hence, Tabi not only help relieve knee or lower-back pain, but they can also increase your awareness of your toes, which are the farthest distance from your brain, and encourage you to use them more consciously. The link between your brain and your toes is reinforced by wearing Tabi, and they help strengthen your knees, lower back, and core muscles, which reduces your risk of falling.
Kohaze are metal clasps for fastening the back closure of Tabi which extends from the heel to the ankle. By adjusting the position of the Kakeito (hooks), the fit can be loosened or tightened. Before Kohaze were developed, Tabi were fastened using a string. However, with advancements in metal working, nickel-plated brass Kohaze became the standard.
Each Kohaze is about 0.32 mm to 0.35 mm in thickness, and they are attached to the fabric via threading through three holes.
The number of Kohaze used increases with the height of the Tabi socks.
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