Hokusai and Kuniyoshi for your feet.

Converse’s All-Stars’ biggest claim to fame is that they’re made with canvas. Of course, canvas can also be used in making art, and those two applications are coming together in a pair of beautiful new shoes featuring the work of two of the most celebrated painters in Japanese history, Katsushika Hokusai and Utagawa Kuniyoshi.

Both artists are best known for their creation of ukiyo-e woodblock prints, with the Hokusai shoes displaying his most famous work, and arguably the most recognized piece from the entirety of Japanese art history, The Great Wave off Kanagawa.

Originally painted in 1831, The Great Wave off Kanagawa depicts a towering tidal wave in the churning seas of Kanagawa Prefecture, Tokyo’s neighbor to the south, with Mt. Fuji visible in the distance. Putting the print on a high-top shoe actually adds an interesting sense of scale, since the rest of the wave being high on the ankle, and the steep angle of the shoe in profile, drives home just how tall the wave is.

The artwork on the Utagawa Kuniyoshi All-Stars may not be quite as internationally famous, but it’s no less striking.

The creature gracing these shoes with its ghastly presence is a gashadokoro, a giant skeleton that appears in Japanese folklore. This specific gashadokoro hails from Kuniyoshi’s Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre, also known as Princess Takiyasha Calling up a Monstrous Skeleton Specter at the Old Palace in Soma, Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre, and Mitsukuni Defying the Skeleton Spectre Invoked by Princess Takiyasha (or Soma no Furudairi in Japanese), which was painted sometime around 1845. Whatever you choose to call it, the painting is a three-panel composition in which a gashadokoro is summoned by the daughter of a rebellious warlord following his failed uprising.

▼ With two gashadokoro per pair, the Converse version is numerically even more terrifying, though the skeletons only appear on the outside edges of the shoes.

Officially, the shoes are known as the All Star Ukiyoe Print Hi Wave and All Star Ukiyoe Print Hi Skull. Though part of the historical significance of woodblock prints is that their affordability made artwork ownership feasible for the masses, each pair is priced at 12,100 yen (US$80), which isn’t particularly cheap. To be fair, though, that’s still relatively inexpensive by limited-edition designer sneaker standards.

Both pairs of ukiyo-e All-Stars go on sale through the Converse Japan online shop (Wave here, Skull here) on November 7, giving you yet another way to turn your feet into a mobile Japanese art exhibit.

Source: Converse via Japaaan
Top image: Converse
Insert images: Converse (1, 2)
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