Japanese Feet

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Japanese Feet
Image by Mikhail Nilov on Pexels


Japanese feet have been the subject of fascination for many people around the world. From their unique shape to their daily care, Japanese feet offer a glimpse into the culture and traditions of Japan. In this article, we will explore the intricacies of Japanese feet, their history, cultural significance, and modern-day care.

History of Japanese Feet

The shape of Japanese feet is distinct from that of other cultures. The most striking feature of Japanese feet is their high arch, which is believed to have evolved due to the Japanese custom of walking barefoot on tatami mats. The tatami mat is a traditional Japanese flooring made of woven straw, which offers an ideal surface for barefoot walking. Walking on these mats strengthens the arch muscles, resulting in a distinct arch shape.

In Japanese history, feet were considered to be an important part of a person’s appearance. During the Heian period (794-1185), women’s feet were considered to be a status symbol. Women with small and beautiful feet attracted the attention of men and were highly desired as wives. This led to the practice of binding feet, which was adopted from China. However, unlike in China, the practice did not become widespread in Japan. Instead, only noble women belonging to the court followed the practice of binding their feet.

Cultural Significance of Japanese Feet

Japanese feet have cultural significance beyond their physical shape. In Japan, the custom of removing shoes before entering a home or a temple is deeply ingrained. This practice is called genkan, and it is a sign of respect for the cleanliness of the interior space. Shoes are considered to be carriers of dirt and impurities, and removing them ensures that the house or temple remains clean.

Japanese feet are also associated with the concept of ma, which means a sense of empty space. The Japanese consider ma to be essential in architecture, art, and music. Ma is not just the physical empty space, but also the spiritual and emotional space that is essential in Japanese culture. In architecture, the concept of ma is incorporated in the design of a room, where the empty space is as important as the objects in the room. The same is true for Japanese gardens, where empty spaces are considered an essential part of the design. The concept of ma is also reflected in the tea ceremony, where the pauses and silences are as important as the actions performed during the ceremony.

Modern-day Care of Japanese Feet

Today, Japanese feet are still considered to be an essential part of self-care in Japan. The traditional practice of soaking feet in hot water, known as yuburo, is still popular among many Japanese people. Yuburo is considered to be a form of relaxation and promotes blood circulation in the feet. The water is often scented with herbs or essential oils to enhance the experience.

Japanese feet are also an essential part of traditional Japanese skincare. Foot masks and creams are widely available in Japan, and they are formulated to moisturize and nourish the feet. Some Japanese foot care products also contain ingredients like green tea, which has antibacterial properties and can help with foot odor.

In recent years, Japanese feet have also gained popularity in the beauty industry. Foot peels, which remove dead skin from the feet, have become popular in Japan and around the world. The peels contain natural ingredients like fruit acids and enzymes, which dissolve the dead skin cells. While foot peels are not a traditional Japanese practice, they reflect the importance of foot care in Japan.


Japanese feet offer a unique insight into the culture and traditions of Japan. From their high arches to their daily care, Japanese feet embody the Japanese concept of ma, which encompasses both physical space and emotional and spiritual space. The practice of removing shoes before entering a home or temple is deeply ingrained in Japanese culture and reflects the importance of cleanliness and respect. Today, Japanese feet continue to be an essential part of self-care in Japan, and their cultural significance extends beyond physical appearance. The care and maintenance of Japanese feet reflect the value that the Japanese place on overall wellness and self-care.