Another unique feature of Japanese footwear is how it takes advantage of its wide, “picturesque” bases. Some pieces of footwear have ukiyo-e designs printed or motifs of plants, dragons, or tigers engraved on their surfaces.

There are even examples of footwear with hand-painted pictures by the artisan on each item, or ones decorated with “maki-e”, a traditional gold and silver lacquering technique; ones embedded with slices of shiny shells in a process called “raden”; or others grafted with leather of varying colors and textures known as “kiritsugi”, and still many other varieties exist. With designs ranging from traditional to modern art motifs, can any other type of footwear boast such prolific use as a means of artistic expression? Of course, such designs on the base top cannot be seen while the item is being worn.

However, they can be seen in glimpses with each step, and once they are off your feet and lined up in the foyer, they draw attention just like any other work of art. That is the distinct appeal of traditional Japanese footwear.

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