Expertise of JIKA TABI
All hand crafted one by one and made in Japan
Traditional rare works by craftsmen
All of the processes for making tabi including the making of fabrics are done in Japan.
The beautiful designs from our veteran craftsmen are traditional skills handed down through generations. Cutting, sewing, and all other manufacturing processes are sectioned by each category for each specialist to ensure great, consistent quality.
Our shop sells minority products made with the vulcanization method the same way as sneakers.
These products are comfortable and durable.
Jika-tabi made with the vulcanization method.
They are comfortable and durable, created by highly skilled craftsmen
These Jika-tabi are made with the vulcanization method the same way as sneakers.First, the shape of the tabi are created by skilled craftsmen . While they appear perfectly finished, you are unable to wear them yet due to the softness of the rubber sole.Then by intermediately adding sulfur to the rubber, a chemical reaction occurs and a new intermolecular bond is created, improving the elastic limit of the rubber. The sulfur is added using a special stove, where the rubber is left to sit for an hour in 120℃ heat. The pressure in the stove is 4kg/cm. By taking time to add the sulfur, the bonding and forming process can occur at the same time. By adding sulfur, the rubber becomes shiny and smooth as well as making beautifully shaped Tabi that are very comfortable and durable.
There are few companies that use this vulcanization method in Japan. One of the reasons for this is that the process of hand-crafting the tabi requires many highly skilled workers.Rubber soles are like living things, and are easily affected by climate and temperature in a single day. Veteran craftsmen also need to expend a lot of effort to ensure consistently high quality.All these reason and more are why we’d like you to try these Jika-tabi that are made by skilled labor and time.
The fabric most often used to make Jika-Tabi is cotton. Depending on the design and concept, the fabric used can change, but the type used for most models is sailcloth 8, which is made in Japan. Of course, all parts of the creation process, from spinning the cloth to the manufacturing are done in Japan.
The fabric is placed on a properly sized paper and from there, a veteran craftsman will cut the fabric by hand while looking at the lines in the fabric. The pattern of the cutting process is very precise and has a large influence on the work that will come later. It is such an important job that it can even be said that it is the lifeline of the creation process.
The parts of the fabric that were cut then go to their individual sewing stations. In each section, the craftsmen sew very carefully to finish the upper parts of tabi.
- Sewing on the Hezegake
The Hazegake, which is used when putting on Tabi, is sewn on using a special machine. The Tomehimo (attachment string) is used in the place of a button-hole. When it is used as a set with the Kohaze (which is attached in the next step of production), together they serve the purpose of a button.
- Attaching the Kohaze
The Kohaze, used for the part of the Tabi where you insert your feet, is attached to the fabric. The Kohaze serves the purpose of a button. By hooking it onto the previously sewn on Tomehimo, it lines up the Tabi in its proper place and holds it together when you wear it. Also, a different carved seal is used for the different Tabi sizes making them easy to tell apart.
- Sewing the fabric together
The part that the Hazegake was previously sewn onto is the inner side while the part that the Kohaze was attached to is the outer side of the Tabi. By putting these two parts together, the sides of the Tabi are created. By sewing the two parts together, you can start to see the uniquely sectioned shape of the Tabi. As the fabric is thick it is difficult to sew making the production a bit slower, but if a thinner fabric was used the durability of the product would decrease so we use a thick, comfortable, cotton fabric to create our product.
- Last sewing steps
After sewing the sides together, we then work on the compensation of the heel. By making sure the heel is heavily supported, this helps to prevent the Tabi from losing its shape. This makes it possible for us to create a highly durable and comfortabl Tabi. With this the sewing process is complete.
The fabric that is currently sewn together makes only the instep. There is still no sole, so in order for it to serve the actual purpose of a shoe, it must now go through the manufacturing process.
- Applying Glue
The cotton fabric that is sewn together still has no sole. First, the upper part of the fabric is glued into a shoe mold. The fabric is set in place by the insole, as it uses the fabric as its foundation. Before that step can be completed, glue is applied to the fabric so that it is completely covered.
The upper part of the shoe where glue was previously applied is now pulled into shape using the shoe mold. Once the fabric is lined up with the mold, the insole, which is the foundation of the Tabi, is pinned into place. This process of pinning the insole in its proper place is a very important part of Tabi making. How this is done can determine how comfortable the Tabi is as well as how the shape will turn out. Because of this, veteran craftsmen are in charge of completing this step using special tools such as rollers and the Tabi shoe molds.
- Applying Glue to the Sole and Sides
Rubber tape is applied to the edges where the insole meets with the pinned sides. In preparation for later steps, glue is carefully applied to the part of the Tabi for your toes. As this part is split into two sections, glue is applied to both sections as well as the parts in between them. The glued Tabi must now be left to dry overnight before the next steps can be completed.
- Supporting the Sole and Sides
After the glued Tabi have been left to dry overnight, a material to compensate them is applied. This material is carefully applied by hand so that all parts of the Tabi are covered and there are no wrinkles.
- Attaching the Sole
At this point the product has already taken the shape of a Jika-Tabi, but now we must apply the outsole so that they can be used outdoors. A rubber sole is used for the outsole for its high shock absorption. A special machine is used to attach the outsole. It is crimped onto the sole of the Tabi by pushing with great force from the insole side.
- Supporting the Joints of the Sole
With this, the sewn instep, the insole and the outsole are complete. Craftsmen now fill in the spaces where the different parts of the shoe meet. They do this carefully to make sure that air does not get through into the cracks. Now, as it is fully compensated, a firm Jika-Tabi from which the sole will not fall off of has been created.
- Crimping using the Valcanize method
Crimping the rubber using the Valcanize method is one of the most interesting steps in creating the Jika-Tabi. If sulfur is not added to rubber materials, they will not be flexible. By intermediately adding sulfur to the rubber, a chemical reaction occurs and a new intermolecular bond is created, improving the elastic limit of the rubber. The sulfur is added using a special stove, where the rubber is left to sit for an hour in 120℃ heat. The pressure in the stove is 4kg/cm. By taking time to add the sulfur, the bonding and forming process can occur at the same time. By adding sulfur, the rubber becomes shiny and smooth as well as making beautifully shaped Tabi that are very comfortable and durable.
- Finishing Touches
As the last step, each completed Tabi is checked individually before a silicon burnishing is applied and they are complete.
Process of manufacturing tabi and about the industry of “Takasago”
In 1969, Takasago Hyogo prefecture, established by Tokiharu Kako.
Originally working at a rubber factory until it went bankrupt, Tokiharu established his tabi company with just 8 emloyees. While Jika-tabi are popular these days for climbing, fishing, and surfing, this almost never came to pass as his company suffered a fire in 1991, 22 years after it was established. The founder considered filing for bankruptcy, however his son, Yoichi Kako, decided to continue as the second generation. In 2004, the CEO of the Kyoto company SOU・SOU, Mr. Wakabayashi, offered to design Jika-tabi and Yoichi happily consented. This was a turning point for the company which led to Jika-tabi becoming one the very popular craftsman made products in Japan.