Episode 16 : Marugo Hitoe
Updated: Oct 2
Introduction: 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 Gray (Being reviewed
(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: These were an interesting pair! I was really excited to receive these because I'd heard of shoes like this, but hadn't seen anything else like it on the market. Sure there were Vibram 5 fingers but nothing in the barefoot market with the tabi style toe. I've often had issue with shoes that separate the toes, I'm not sure if it's because I'm overly sensitive to it and the feeling is a bit alien or if it is because previous shoe that I've had that either have a toe separation or toe feature just haven't fit correctly. I was definitely sceptical about how I'd feel in these and whether they'd suit my foot. Like Alex I was unsure if they would be wide enough as like most barefoot shoes you expect there to be room for movement with in the shoe.
I was pleasantly surprised when trying them on, they actually fit close to the foot and I assume this is how they should be. The material is like a strong knit, very breathable, durable with a bit of stretch. At first I felt them to be a bit tight, being used to barefoot shoes that have a lot of room for movement. Then accepting that they are more like a ballet slipper, fitting close to the foot and having the stretch and flexibility to emulate walking barefoot. After getting over that normal strange toe separation feeling that I get, I found these to be really comfortable and I love the flexibility.
With out socks the upper does feel rough, I prefer to wear them with socks
The knitted fabric of the upper is strong but does have stretch it in to help with performance.
The sole has good grip
Performance: These are a comfortable shoe, they should fit close to the foot and they do soften and stretch slightly so for better performance I think they should fit true to the foot and not any bigger as most barefoot shoes should. Mine were a great fit and I didn't feel any slip in them, I would be comfortable to run in these with out any issues.
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) Drop: 0mm
Conclusion: The Marugo Hitoe is a cool shoe. It's great if you enjoy that toe separation to gain more mobility and range of motion with your feet. They're also just an alternative style to your usual barefoot sneaker and add a bit of something different to your wardrobe. They're easy to wear and are pulled on in one quick motion so great to through on and head to the gym in. Mine were fairly secure and I didn't have any issues with stretch for the elastic around the foot. Definitely recommend giving them a go if you want to try something other than your regular sneaker.
- Jade, Thebarefootshoereview. *Disclaimer: This shoe was sent to me however my opinion is my own. Furthermore, the links are affiliate links.