Creative Around The World

Kahoku Slippers Are Booming – Kahoku, Japan

To introduce: the booming of Japanese Slipper. Image by : Abe Sangyo

Slippers, the humble footwear, has its peak in demands during the 2020 pandemic. In Japan, the country has the largest production of Japanese slippers located in Yamagata prefecture.

They are seeing an increase in orders from overseas, as people are now starting to take off shoes and wear slippers while at home to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection. So, people around the world are now learning about the benefits of the Japanese costume about taking off their shoes at home.

The Japanese slippers have no wheels, and there is no distinction between left and right. They wear them daily indoors, after taking off their shoes from outside.

Japanese Slippers in Japanology Plus in NHK World. Japanese Slipper in the Japanology Plus in NHK World

For example, the slippers factories in Kahoku Town, Yamagata Prefecture, are still busy handling a surge in orders from abroad despite the corona pandemic. The orders are flowing in from the people who usually wearing shoes at home. Manufacturers there have begun to export, including the oldest company in the prefecture, Abe Sangyo.

So when was this custom of wearing slippers started in Japan? It was started around 17th to 19th century when Japan closed off to the outside world. A change came forward in the late of the 19th century, in order to speed up the introduction of western culture and technology Japan hired a huge number of foreign advisers. So shrines, temples, and inns, converted into places where these advisers could stay. But all the flooring materials were covered with tatami, which the foreigners thought it was a carpet. The foreigners were walking on it with shoes and for Japanese, this was inconceivable. And it was quite strange for foreigners to wear only socks. That was a start of Japanese slippers production in Japan.

For more information about one of  slippers companies in Yamagata Prefecture, Japan: Abe Sangyo

Source of information for Japanese Slippers:  At a Glance Japan Japanese slipper factories experience boom in overseas demand amid pandemic — Slippers Japanology PlusJapanology Plus: Slippers (2019)