Is it just a coincidence that these shoes resemble traditional Japanese footwear so closely?

It’s not uncommon to see an occasional shout-out to Japanese culture, whether it be with kimono-sleeve tops or Engrish-y graphic t-shirts, but it’s arguably less common to see something that looks like a blast from Japan’s past.

▼ How long do you think it would take to break a pair of these in?

Spanish brand Zara’s upcoming collection includes a pair of strappy, woven sandals that have been likened to waraji, or traditional Japanese straw sandals. Despite their complicated appearance, they were considered a must when traveling across rough terrain or over long distances back in the day.

▼ A waraj maker from Japan’s Taisho era.

The biggest difference is that Zara’s woven sandals (available for 7,990 yen, or US$72) and the traditional build is that the latter is made of straw while the former is made of jute fiber.

▼ The straps also seem a tad tricky!

When Japanese fashion fans saw this new collection released, they had a lot to say on social media. Some have commented on how they can be used for cosplay, while others have balked at their high price.

“They’re too cutting edge and it makes me think people are just going backwards.”
“These really look like waraji.”
“Next we’ll be seeing geta sandals.”
“These look like something a grandma in the countryside would sell for 200 yen a pair as a side job.”

Someone also drew this cute homage to ZARA and posted it on Twitter.

▼ It looks like a traditional Japanese store with “Zara” written on the sign in Japanese hiragana text.

What drew our attention the most, though, was this informative Tweet:

“In the Edo period [1603-1868] went for about 15 bun [a type of Edo-period currency]. A night in a Tokkaido area inn with two meals included went for about 200-bun. That means that they’d be 200-300 yen in modern terms. I can’t believe Zara is selling them for 8,000 yen…”

Of course, Zara hasn’t said directly that these are exactly waraji, but it was enough to convince those knowledgeable about Japanese culture. Feel free to rock them (perhaps in Yeezy slide fashion), but be aware that they would supposedly go for a lot cheaper in the Japanese countryside.

Sources: Zara via Japaaan Magazine, Twitter
Top image: Zara
Insert images: Zara, Wikipedia/Elstner Hilton
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