• barefootshoereview

Episode 14 : Marugo Hitoe

Updated: Oct 2





Unfortunately, one of my feet is half a size smaller, or bigger (glass half-full), and I have a 'Greek Foot Shape', which means that my second toe is the longest. Because of these two factors, Vibram 5 Finger shoes just don't work for me. As i suspect many others could be in the same boat, and if you also desire a split toe shoe for increased toe freedom, the Marugo Hitoe could be exactly what you're looking for!

Traditional tabi socks date back to 15th century Japan, and were typically worn with zōri or geta thonged footwear. They were segregated by colour, signifying the task that it's wearer was performing, or the social status of it's wearer. Eg. White for weddings and tea ceremonies, blue for daily tasks, and multi-coloured or patterned for performers. Furthermore, Samurai had permission to wear any colour besides gold or purple, as these were reserved for nobility.


It wasn't until the 20th century, that the founder of Bridgestone tyres invented the jika-tabi — or “direct tabi,” as in “tabi that touch the ground directly”. Jika-tabi are often used by construction workers, farmers and gardeners, rickshaw-pullers, martial artists and other workmen.


The Marugo Hitoe is a slip-on split-toe barefoot shoe, and is priced at approximately $150 US. The shoe is available in Japanese shoe sizes: 22.0 - 30.0 cm, and in the following colours:

  • Zebra Orange (Being reviewed)

  • Zebra Purple

  • Zebra Gray

  • Zebra Yellow

  • Zebra Pink

(Disclaimer: These shoes were given to me to review, however my opinion is my own).


Company Overview: Marugo was founded in 1919 and is based in Kurashiki, a city in Okayama well known for its textile industry. The company has focused on the manufacture of tabi shoes since its foundation, and now they also make shoes with a modern twist based on the time-tested jika-tabi design principle.

Initial Impressions: Prior to actually receiving these, i was sceptical whether their quality was up to standard, whether they'd be wide enough, and whether the split toe system would work. I was wrong on all accounts...

  • These felt great from the get go, and only got better when the sole broke in.

  • They were wide enough for my foot, and the toe system worked for my foot shape.

  • They were much better quality than I expected.

Sizing:

My foot is 29.3cm, and I usually add an extra 1cm or so of space. Therefore, I chose the 300 or 12. If i were to choose the same shoe again however, I would go for the 290 or 11, as I've come to realise that split toe shoes need to fit like a glove, and the material does eventually expand.

The insole isn't your typical insole, so don't bother using the insole to measure weather the shoe will fit. It seems to be designed more like a footbed, and it's removable anyway, if you want more of a ground feel or more space. Besides that, the width is great for my foot, throughout.

  • We recommend the closest fit possible from the inside (mm) length table.


Materials:

  • The upper feels rough, yet at the same time comforting. It's extremely breathable, and sweat resistant. It does loosen with time.

  • The sole performs better once it's broken in, and is fairly slip resistant


Performance:

In my opinion the Marugo Hitoe excels in fitness/exercise/beach based scenarios, although it's also suited for casual wear (if you're up for it). The sole is a comfortable thickness for most activities, and I found that the split-toe system forced me to use my great toe more, which could only be beneficial.

Although in hindsight, the shoe would've performed better if it were a tighter fit, I didn't face any instances where I felt that my foot stability was compromised.

Technical Specifications: Upper: Polyester fiber 58% of PL (polyester), PA (nylon) 35%, PU (polyurethane) 7%

Sole: Rubber Total Stack height: 1.5 cm (Insole 0.5mm, Sole 1cm)

Weight: 400-560g a pair (0.88lb-1.23lb / 14.1onz-19.8onz)



Conclusion:

The Marugo Hitoe is a fun shoe, perfect for anyone with a foot shape not suited to Vibram Five Fingers, yet wanting to branch out and try a split-toe system. The quality is on par with other competitors on the market, and the benefits of a split-toe system, compared to enclosed shoes are clear.

To improve this product in the future, I would love to see an added range of upper materials, an optional lacing system, and half sizes.


-Alex, Thebarefootshoereview.

*Disclaimer: This shoe was sent to me however my opinion is my own. Furthermore, the links are affiliate links.rugo Hitoe excels in fitness/exercise/beach based scenarios, although it's also suited for casual wear (if you're up for it). The sole is a comfortable thickness for most activities, and I found that the split-toe system forced me to use my great toe more, which could only be beneficial.

Although in hindsight, the shoe would've performed better if it were a tighter fit, I didn't face any instances where I felt that my foot stability was compromised.

Technical Specifications: Upper: Polyester fiber 58% of PL (polyester), PA (nylon) 35%, PU (polyurethane) 7%

Sole: Rubber Total Stack height: 1.5 cm (Insole 0.5mm, Sole 1cm)

Weight: 400-560g a pair (0.88lb-1.23lb / 14.1onz-19.8onz)

Conclusion:

The Marugo Hitoe is a fun shoe, perfect for anyone with a foot shape not suited to Vibram Five Fingers, yet wanting to branch out and try a split-toe system. The quality is on par with other competitors on the market, and the benefits of a split-toe system, compared to enclosed shoes are clear.

To improve this product in the future, I would love to see an added range of upper materials, an optional lacing system, and half sizes.

-Alex, Thebarefootshoereview.

*Disclaimer: This shoe was sent to me however my opinion is my own. Furthermore, the links are affiliate links.

All Rights Reserved by The Barefoot Shoe Review

Melbourne, Australia

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