Traditional “Shintomi-kata” Supports the Feet of Stage Actors

“Ohnoya Sohonten" has been a long running Japanese arts & crafts accessories store in Shintomi-cho, mainly selling Tabi Shoes. We interviewed Shigeo Fukushima, the owner of the store. “Around 1770, the first 美代吉(Miyokichi) started a costume tailor in Mita, which was the reason for its founding. In 1849, it moved to Shintomi-cho, where we have been doing business for about 170 years, and I am the seventh generation master.”

We asked the reason the store was set up in Shintomi-cho, "This area was a gorgeous city with a playhouse theater called Shintomi-za and there were many companies related to theatrical productions such as large props and costumes in the neighborhood, so I guess I naturally chose this place.”

Nowadays, regular clothing is the main lifestyle. Our customers are mostly people who wear kimonos on a regular basis. “The main customers are Kabuki actors, Noh actors, and waitresses of ryotei restaurants.” Sometimes we go to the theater to make alterations directly after receiving requests from costume makers. “When I see actors who use Tabi Shoes on stage, I can't help but notice their feet."

When asked about the characteristics of the Tabi Shoes that are favored by actors, “Our Tabi Shoes are called 'Shintomi style,' and we make the soles thin and wrap around the top to make the feet look beautiful. If the soles are too wide, they look too flat, so I take care from the paper pattern making process to avoid it.” It was surprising to see that the Japanese culture also wanted to make their legs look slimmer, but it is for the actors. “When standing on the stage, you can visibly see the feet through the kimono and it stands out. Especially onnagata actors are very conscious.” The delicate worries of the long-established Tabi Shoes shop continues to support the feet of actors.