Buying Shoes in Japan | Sizes, Brands & Japanese Shoe Shops
Blue shoes, running shoes, sneakers, slip-ons, loafers, there’s almost endless possibilities for shoes alone. And when you’re in a foreign country like Japan and you’re looking for new shoes, it can seem less like simply shopping for shoes and even more like navigating a maze.
In Japan, the shoe sizes can drastically vary from English sizes and it can sometimes be somewhat difficult to find your size. Alongside the introduction of a swarm of new, trendy shoe brands, you might just need a helping hand to get you started.
Baffled by Japanese shoe shops? Try our one-stop guide to buying shoes in Japan. From size charts to the biggest brands, here’s how to shop for shoes like a pro.
Japan Shoe Size Chart: How Shoe Sizes Differ in Japan
Buying shoes in Japan can be one of the best shoe shopping experiences you will encounter, that is if you know your Japanese shoe sizes. Shoe sizes in Japan can be quite difficult to wrap your head around unless you have the proper shoe size charts to visualise the difference.
Every country is different with shoe sizes, and of course some of them are more tiresome than others to grasp, Japan shoe sizes are one of them.
While for the most part it can be a simple case of translating the numbers from the chart, this is only exacerbated when you start including letters. For men and women, shoe sizes can be found between 21 and 30 on average, as well as letters corresponding to sizes being small, medium, large and large-large (S/M/L/LL).
Below are the shoe size charts from English to Japanese for men, women and kids.
Women’s Japan Shoe Sizes
Women’s shoe sizes in Japan start at 21.5cm (an English size 2) and end at 30cm (an English size 11). Japan shoe sizes can also be found in small, medium, large and large-large.
Men’s Japan Shoe Sizes
Men’s shoe sizes in Japan start at 23.5cm (an English size 5) and end at 30.5cm (an English size 12). Japan shoe sizes can also be found in small, medium, large and large-large.
Kids Japan Shoe Sizes
Kids shoe sizes in Japan start at 10cm (an English size 2) and end at 21.5cm (an English size 2).
Letter Shoe Sizes in Japan
As well as numbers Japan also provides shoe sizes in letters for certain stores. These shoe sizes appear in small, medium, large and large-large (or S/M/L/LL).
Going by letters can be a little confusing as they don’t always match up correctly and can fluctuate from shoe brand to shoe brand and store to store.
As a general rule of the thumb, a small is around a 5 or 6, a medium would be around a 6 or 7, large a 7.5 and large-large anything above.
As this can differ depending on where you are and what you’re looking for, it’s always best to go in-store and try on the shoe if you can. It’ll save you the hassle of sending back a shoe that is two sizes too big, or one that breaks your toes just to get it on.
Traditional Japanese Shoes and Suggested Sizes
There are a select few Japanese traditional footwear that require certain etiquette to wear; Geta, Zori and Setta. While these are all sandals they each have their own distinct qualities that separates them from one another.
The Geta are wooden sandals most prominently found on people wearing Kimonos and Yukatas, while the Zori are straw sandals, and the Setta are described as thin and elegant Japanese sandals.
These traditional Japanese sandals require a smaller size than you would normally purchase, as there needs to be an overhang of about 1.5-2cm of your heel on the back of your shoe.
As the pressure is applied to the 1st and 2nd toes, they are great ways to improve your balance. However it’s important that the support from the shoes is tight so your feet don’t slip, you can tighten these if needed by pulling the “hanao” (strap).
1. Shoes Like Pottery
Shoes Like Pottery are a famous shoe brand in Japan, one of the most popular in fact. And it’s not difficult to see why, all their shoes are extremely comfortable, stylish and all have a distinct blue dot so you know their brand.
What sets them apart from other Japanese shoe brands is that they are vulcanised in the shoe-making process. Also known as ‘ka-ryu’ in Japan, this is a process in which rubber is hardened ensuring that Shoes Like Pottery shoes are durable, versatile and will last you a long time.
Shop here http://shoeslikepottery.com/.
2. LOSERS Stick to Your Guns
LOSERS Stick To Your Guns are a Japanese shoe brand that was established by struggling Japanese artists that create shoes with original, poetic and creative designs for all to enjoy.
They take great inspiration from the Japanese Edo period, and also receive a lot of attention from their seasonal designs. LOSERS Stick To Your Guns are a great source of original shoes, not only easy on the eyes but you’d also be supporting a good cause – good art!
Shop here http://losers-styg.com/.
3. Asics Japan
Asics are a Japanese brand of athletic shoes that thrust health, fitness and innovation at the forefront of their operations. Originally called ONITSUKA Co, later renamed to Asics, the name is an acronym for the latin expression “Anima Sana In Corpore Sano” which means “you should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body”.
Not only do Asics shoes mean sporting the latest trendy designs, but there is also extensive research that goes into every shoe. So when you buy Asic shoes you know they’ve been specifically moulded for your comfort and for running.
Shop here https://www.asics.com/.
4. RFW Tokyo
RFW Tokyo is a shoe brand established in 1998 by designer Takashi Kagogi. Also known as ‘Rhythm Footwear’, the demand for these shoes lies in their simplicity. In contrast to overly decorated shoes today, RFW Tokyo has a simple style and minimalist design.
These shoes are made for men, women and children of all sizes – offering a breath of fresh air in shoe design, offering simplicity at its finest.
Shop here https://www.rfwtokyo.com/.
Originally inspired by the baseball culture of America, Mizuno started out producing baseball wear in an effort to introduce baseball to Japan. It wasn’t until 1972 that Mizuno produced a shoe that is more reminiscent of the brand as we know it today, a running fitness shoe.
As far as running shoes go, Mizuno is your best bet as one of, if not the most popular running shoe brand in Japan. Specifically designed for the purpose of running, you know you’re in safe hands with a pair of Mizunos.
Shop here https://emea.mizuno.com/.
6. Hender Scheme
Founded by designer Ryo Kashiwazaki, Hender Scheme is one of the most popular sneakers brands in Japan. Working to provide an alternative to traditional formal leather shoes, Hender Scheme provides a more gender neutral approach.
The shoes are manufactured in such a way that it creates a different entity for each person depending on how the shoes are worn and washed.
Shop here https://henderscheme.com/.
7. Onitsuka Tiger Japan
Onitsuka Tiger Japan is in fact a subsidiary of Asics founded in 1949. One of the most popular sneaker brands that roams Japan, what originally started out as more of a sporty shoe has now become a fashion-forward shoe that is more inspired by sports.
This change made the necessary adaptations to appeal to modern audiences while still managing to hold onto what makes Onitsuka Tiger Japan tick.
Shop here https://www.onitsukatiger.com/.
8. Comme Des Garcons
Comme Des Garcons are a Japanese fashion label that have made their mark worldwide, most notably runways. Famous for their hearts with eyes, it’s easy to spot a Comme Des Garcons shoe from a mile away.
In actual fact, a fun nod to their collaboration with Converse.
The goal of the company is to create artfully designed sneakers for all, designed with only the best materials.
Shop here https://www.comme-des-garcons.com/.
9. White atelier BY CONVERSE (Japan-only Branch)
White atelier BY CONVERSE is the ultimate shoe shopping experience and shoe brand rolled into one. Taking the distinct, ever-popular, cult-classic white converse and merging them with an original design – sounds pretty good doesn’t it?
Located at Cat Street, Harajuku, White atelier BY CONVERSE provides the opportunity to customise your very own pair, with the help of a talented artist of course!
If you’re looking for a shoe that demands the attention of passerbyers, that encapsulates a perfect blend of design and history, Visvim is the shoe brand for you. Inspired by American and Native American style, Visvim shoes are bold and character-infused.
With Visvim shoes you can expect fringe, tassels, soft and earthy tones. Designed to deliver a true authentic visual aesthetic that is reminiscent of its inspirations.
Chains and Department Stores for Shoe Shopping in Japan
Sometimes when you’re buying shoes all you’re looking for is a simple shoe shop, luckily for you there are a wealth of shoe shops and chains across Japan for you to choose from.
Here are some of the larger shoe shop chains that are almost everywhere you look.
ASBee is a shoe shop chain in Japan, dotted around all the regions with over 900 locations. They sell exclusively quite expensive shoes, from well-known brands such as Nike, Adidas and Converse, alongside other types of shoes such as running shoes. Sometimes you may be able to stumble onto an original with the latest models from big brands or a one-of-a-kind.
CHIYODA HAKI-GOKOCHI is another shoe shop chain in Japan, with locations across Tokyo, Ikebukuro, Shin-Koshigaya, Urayasu and Nagoya. The store’s concept is “traveling and active business” as the stores are located near or next to train stations and are designed to suit travelling business men and women. As well as the fashion-forward styles they stock, they also provide house-held names like Nike, Skechers, Cedar Crest and Hydro-Tech.
Tokyo Shoes Retailing Center
Tokyo Shoes Retailing Centre and CHIYODA HAKI-GOKOCHI are both managed by Chiyoda Co., Ltd., they are another shoe shop chain in Tokyo. The store is dedicated to providing the best deals and giving customers the most value on their purchases and as such run frequent deals to do just that. As well as in-house brands they also stock shoes from brands such as Nike, New Balance and Adidas.
Ikedaya Shoes is a small shoe shop in Ueno which has several stores, despite being relatively small it has one of the biggest sales floors in all of Tokyo, Japan. They stock premium brands across sneakers, business and imports from other countries, selling brands such as Doc Martins, Nike, Adidas, New Balance and K-Swiss. Alongside delivering outlet prices, they also have on-site assistants to help you find the right size shoe for you.
Outlet Stores to find Cheap Shoes
Everyone loves a good bargain, you’re lying if you say you don’t. And where’s the best place for a bargain? Outlet stores! Outlet stores in Japan are the perfect place for shoe shopping (on a budget).
Outlet stores tend to sell expensive brands at cheaper prices, whether they are offseason or from last year. It can be a great place to find a beauty of a shoe at amazing prices.
Here are three of outlet stores that sell an impressive selection of branded shoes for dirty-cheap.
ABC-MART Outlet Gotanda TOC
Address: 7 Chome-22-17 Nishigotanda, Shinagawa City, Tokyo 141-0031, Japan
Phone number: +81 3-5759-1444
ABC-MART is a prominent chain of shoe stores in Tokyo, Japan, selling everything from loafers and running shoes to professional shoes. ABC-MART Outlet Gotanda TOC is the only outlet store from this chain, selling all your favourites at discount prices.
ORiental TRaffic Outlet Shimokitazawa South Exit
Address: Japan, 〒155-0031 Tokyo, Setagaya City, Kitazawa, 2 Chome−10−8 スガビル 1F
Phone number: +81 3-3485-9388
ORiental TRaffic is a women’s shoe shop that offers a wide selection of premium shoes, from playful to professional. Here you can find fancy shoes for up to 50% off and even receive a coupon if you trade an old pair of shoes from ORiental TRaffic in store. What’s not to like?
The Suit Company Outlet Ueno
Address: Japan, 〒110-0005 Tokyo, Taito City, Ueno, 4 Chome−5−10 TSC TOWER内
Phone number: +81 3-5846-5657
Sourcing apparel all over the country, The Suit Company Outlet provides a diverse range of shoes and clothing from all over Japan. As the name suggests, The Suit Company provides business attire, suits, shirts, business shoes for both men and women. The items can be anywhere between 20% and 70% off – so get looking!
Ordering Shoes Online in Japan
If you can’t find the shoes you want in store, or can’t handle the stressful act of shoe shopping in a foreign country like Japan, we understand. When on a working holiday it can be a good idea to ease yourself in so as to not overwhelm yourself.
That is where online shopping comes in, everyone’s guilty pleasure. Fortunately shoe shopping in Japan is highly accessible online and not just from native Japanese stores, you can order from stores all around the world.
Free International Shipping Shoe Shops for Japan
If you’re feeling a little bit of culture shock and want to browse through something familiar, simply get out your phone and visit your favourite sites. You’d be surprised as to how many of the well-known ecommerce websites offer free international shipping, so you can get your new pair of ASOS loafers shipped to Japan at no extra cost to you.
Here is a list of some of the popular shoe brands that offer free international shipping to Japan.
Japanese Shoe Etiquette
Also coincidentally a lot of the rules regarding indoor etiquette and manners are to do with footwear. As such there is a distinct line that is drawn between the outside and inside, in which it is customary to take off your shoes inside or put on some indoor slippers.
This etiquette doesn’t just apply to homes but ryokan, restaurants, and the inside of some castles, temples and other buildings of that ilk.
Usually the line between indoor and outdoor is established through something called ‘the genkan’. This is usually a downstairs area to take your shoes off and put on slippers (if they are provided), and an upstairs section with markings to indicate the start of the indoors area.
It is also considered good manners to point your shoes towards the door when you take them off. If you’re going to be visiting a lot of areas that are known for establishing these rules it may be wise to wear some shoes that are easily slipped on and off.
Buying shoes in Japan doesn’t have to be difficult, from choosing the right brand to the size – it all just takes a bit of practice. So go forth and venture out into the Japanese world of shoe shopping, you’re ready!
Any more questions about buying shoes in Japan? Get in touch with us!