Part of the proceeds goes to preserving the World Heritage Site.

One of the most famous and beautiful hiking trails in Japan is the Kumano Kodo. This network of courses throughout southern Wakayama Prefecture was originally used as a spiritual pilgrimage over a millennium ago and is still frequented by worshipers of Buddhism, Shinto, as well as those with a deep respect for nature.

The different routes vary, but traditional ways involve days of hiking through changing terrain from pavement to cobblestone to dirt paths. Hiking the trails takes a good deal of physical fitness and willpower, but quality footwear doesn’t hurt either.

To help in that department is American outdoor footwear brand Keen which, with the help of Japanese online outdoor goods retailer Hiker’s Depot, has released a Kumano Kodo version of their popular Newport sandals.

Tomoya Tsuchiya of Hiker’s Depot was impressed with the ability of Newports to secure feet and protect toes through various road conditions while remaining light and breathable. So, he reached out to Keen to produce a dedicated version for the well-traveled World Heritage Site.

The color of these sandals is the same “Olive” used in the original Newports and chosen to reflect the lush greenery of the Kii mountain range. However, in the product description, the color is listed as “Kumano Kodo” because they are also imprinted with the seal and logo of the trails.

The design is similar to the Newport H2 with bungee laces, thick rubber toe-guards, and a rapid-drying lining intended to get you through whatever the Kumano Kodo throws your way.

Of course, there’s no need to use them exclusively on this pilgrimage route, or hiking at all. That’s because the other purpose of these sandals is to help maintain the environment of the Kumano Kodo. A portion of the sales for each sandal will be donated to a fund run by the Tanabe City Kumano Tourism Bureau which oversees the preservation of the region for future generations.

They went on sale from 1 March for 18,700 yen (US$137) and can be bought from the Keen online stores both in Japan and the USA, although as of this writing the American site was out of stock. If you can eventually get your feet into some, they’d be great for your next pilgrimage, camping trip, or both.

Source, images: PR Times
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