A Guide to Footwear
What's the most walking you've ever done in your life?
Maybe you live in a big city with great public transportation and you don't need a car. You walk everywhere, take the train, bus, taxi, etc. Walking is not a big deal. You walk for miles! How bad could it possibly be in Japan? What would make it any different from walking in my own city?
You will do more walking than you ever have, or will, in your entire life in Japan.
The great majority of Japanese residents do not own a car, especially those that live in the cities. Everyone gets around by using the rail system. Train stations are insane places at basically any time of the day, and everyone has somewhere to go, and they need to get there quickly. There's no such thing as taking a stroll through a train station. You will get run over. Walking on a sidewalk is just about the same; everyone has somewhere to go. No such thing as browsing on your smartphone as you walk along at a slow pace. If you go to a temple, you're going to do walking. If you go to a park, you are going to do walking. If you go to Disneyland or USJ, you are going to be on your feet all day long. You're just constantly on your feet in Japan, which brings me to my first point:
Point 1: Wear comfortable shoes.
I didn't want to just bring my running shoes from home (they're also fluorescent pink, hard to match with my clothes) because I knew I needed a little better support than that. So, I bought some Sketchers Gowalk 2's. After talking to the shop staff and telling him that I would be doing a lot of walking, he recommended these. They're extremely light weight, and I think now the later models have memory foam soles. Even if they don't, you could always put your own insoles too for extra comfort. I'm extremely flat footed (and wide footed), but these shoes worked out great after I broke them in a bit. They don't take up weight in your suitcase, and they're very breathable. They slip on and off easily, so they're great for the airport. These shoes aren't going to work for everyone, but it works for me! Kevin also got sketchers, but got the Gorun 2, which are kind of like this. He has very high arches and a wide foot, but these worked out great for him without any added insoles.
Point 2: Don't buy cheap shoes.
Get quality shoes. I made the mistake of bringing some combat boots I got from Forever 21 to Japan, and both of the soles cracked completely in half on my way to Disneyland. We had to turn around and go back, and I had to buy new shoes while in Japan, which, luckily, did not pose a problem. Why would it be a problem?
Point 3: There are no big shoes in Japan.
Kevin wears a size 13 shoe. There is no such thing as a size 13 shoe in Japan. If you wear a size 9 in women's, you're also out of luck. US size 8 or 8.5 is about as big as shoes get in Japan. Sizing goes by either centimeters (US women's size 8 = Japanese 27), or by S, M, L, or LL, oddly enough. LL is 8 - 8.5 US women's. What's the point of me telling you this? If you wear crap shoes, you might not be able to buy a replacement pair when they break in Japan.
Do you have to wear athletic looking shoes? Of course not. You'd trip out at the shoes some girls and guys wear! Platforms, stilettos, and they probably walk miles in them! If you can handle walking in those shoes, then more power to you. I noticed that platform shoes are very popular in Japan.
So what do you do if you don't want to look like a tourist, but you want to be comfortable?
A retro sneaker is always a fun choice (think Puma or Adidas), and so are sneakers that have fun prints like leopard or floral. Keds are also some of my favorite shoes, and they come in fun colors (currently rocking mint green and lavender) and prints.
|So many Keds|
Last time I was there, I went everywhere in platforms. A stacked heel makes it easier to walk, and I added an insole as well for extra comfort. I also wore flat knee-high boots with an insole.
|Dirty Laundry Campus Queen|
|Rory Tall Boot from Payless|
And as an aside, unless you are somewhat active, you might want to work on your cardio and stamina. Especially if you go to temples, you're going walk up a lot of stairs and hills. Make sure you're feeling up to snuff!
So let's recap!
1. Wear comfortable shoes
2. Don't buy cheap shoes
3. Buying shoes in Japan might be hard if you don't have tiny feet
You by no means have to listen to me. This is just from my own personal experiences, and I just wanted to share what I learned through trial and error. I hope it was helpful. Happy walking!