Zori for Good Health
Wearing geta and zori is said to be good for health, as they aid foot development. The arch of the foot plays an important role when walking, running, and jumping. If not properly developed, feet can tire easily, leading one to trip with a less sure step. Keeping a proper posture could also be affected. An examination of the feet of children poor at physical activities revealed that many of them had flat feet, and their toes were not kept firmly on the ground when they stood up.
Pre-school teachers praise zori for improving children's posture when they wear them while playing and running. Children are less prone to falling over. (Cooperation: Takahagi Kindergarten)
This is why some nursery schools and pre-schools began to have students wear zori. Made of plant materials such as rush that keep the feet dry and with a base board thickness and hardness that's easy on the feet, these schoolwear zori became especially popular and are now used around Japan. Approximately 160,000 pairs are sold a year.
A pre-school in Saitama Prefecture has been using them for 18 years; they are worn by children when playing tag or soccer, and jumping rope. When playing in groups outside, children often stop or change direction suddenly. The zori's open structure doesn't restrict the movement of their feet and toes, which aid the development of muscles and arches of the feet. They are also said to improve blood circulation and correct posture. The greater range of movement allowed provides psychological advantages such as stimulation to the brain, which improves judgment and concentration as well as stamina.
Left: Kids use their toes better while jumping rope in zori
Above: Zori developed for children's health and foot development by Harada Sekiso, professor emeritus at Hyogo University of Teacher Education
Geta and zori are not long-forgotten items of the past. They are a cool and fashionable type of modern footwear, and have the added health benefit of improving foot development. These examples of traditional Japanese footwear are enjoying an all-new popularity.
(Updated in February 2012)