The iconic split-toed tabi boot steps out of the ninja scene and into the world of sneakers in this roundup of awesome footwear designed for the street.

As much as we love the mysterious, stealthy world of Japan’s legendary ninja, unless you’re the lucky American who was picked to be a member of a travelling ninja squad, there’s little opportunity for the rest of us to dress up in dark, form-fitting outfits and live out the life of an assassin leaping from roof to roof. There is, however, a way for us to walk in the shoes of a ninja without turning heads for all the wrong reasons, thanks to jika-tabi, the split-toed boot of the shadow warrior, which slips easily into any wardrobe. Now, international and home-grown brands have adapted the distinctive design, bringing out a number of cool sneakers designed for casual streetwear. Check out the awesome kicks available below!

ASSABOOTS S-Time 15 (16,200 yen/US$145)

Designed by Marugo, a Japanese company based in Okayama Prefecture, these rubber-soled boots contain uppers made from colourful cotton.


▼ The beautiful lining inside these resemble traditional kimono fabrics.


ASSABOOTS Black 15 VI (16,200 yen/$145)

For a modern twist on the traditional dark tabi boot, Marugo has a lineup of black designs to suit all types of outfits.


KIDS Tabi (5,400 yen/$48)

Marugo also produces ninja-inspired footwear for children, with a ridged rubber sole perfect for preventing slips and falls.


tabi x tabi + Relax (8,640 yen/$77)

For sunny days on the beach, Marugo has a range of unique split-toed espadrilles.


Choufu Jika Tabi (8,424 yen/$75)

Kyoto-based footwear retailer Sou・Sou has an extensive range of socks and traditional footwear, including this brightly coloured pair that’s guaranteed to get you comments on the street.


Running Tabi Muteki Black (5,400 yen/$48)

For keen runners, Saitama-based company Kineya Muteki has produced a lineup of tabi running shoes, all hand-stitched with a thin, 5-cm (2-inch) thick rubber sole to create the sense of running barefoot with minimal cushioning.


Vallicans Harvesta (9,720 yen/$87)

For those who want a running shoe with more support, this original pair from Vallicans will do the job. While the shoe is sold out online, if you’re in Japan you can pick up a pair at one of the shops along Nakamise-Dori, the busy pedestrian walkway that leads up to Senso-ji Temple at Asakusa.


ASANOHA (9,720 yen/$87)

Shop Tabi-Ji, which ships all over the world, designed this pair of tabi sneakers to absorb impact on the feet and reduce strain.


Foil Canvas Sailor Clasp Tabi Shoes (20,304 yen/$182)

If you’re after some shiny kicks, you won’t want to miss these designs from Kapital, which include a striped, sailor uniform style fabric around the clasp area.


In addition to the home-grown designs, a number of international brands have also created their own versions of the tabi sneaker. Sadly, these models were released in the past and remain hard to find today, so we can only hope we’ll be seeing these re-released in the future!

Converse All Star Tabi Shin-Hi (4,212 yen/$38)

Sold in 2010, this tabi sneaker from internationally renowned brand Converse is sold out online and is one model we’d love to see on the market again.



Okatabi Sandal (10,500 yen/$94) and Okatabi MT (12,600 yen/$113)

In 2011, Asics released two types of split-toe shoe, featuring a sneaker and sandal design.


Nike Air Rift (9,720 yen/$87)

Not wanting to be left behind, this 2015 model from Nike comes in four different colours and is designed to recreate the experience of running barefoot.


With such a variety of colours and designs to choose from, there’s no reason not to add a bit of ninja styling to your everyday footwear!

Source: Japaaan
Images: Marugo (1, 2, 3, 4), Sou・Sou, Kineya Muteki, Vallicans, Tabi-Ji, Kapital, Amazon Japan/Converse, Asics, Nike Japan