Monday, January 19, 2015

take a tabi with me

Years ago, I purchased a pair of tabi socks, which, if you've never heard of them before, are ankle-high, with a separation between the big toe and other toes. They are worn in Japan by both men and women, with traditional thonged Japanese footwear like zori and geta. Tabi are usually very white, suitable for formal situations like tea ceremony. The ones I bought had a traditional-but-flashy design, and I meant to (but never did) send them to a young niece of mine in the US where they wouldn't shock anyone.

I came across these tabi the other day while sorting the storage room, and decided to take them out of their packaging for a closer look. There was a foot-shaped stiff board inside each sock, and when I pulled them out, I could feel them begging to be made into etegami-collages. So that's what I did.

For the left foot, I played with the Japanese proverb "tabi wa michizure, Yo wa nasake" (Just as a journey is improved by traveling companions, life is improved by compassion/ tender human feelings.) The word tabi (journey) has the same sound as the word for the aforementioned two-toed traditional socks. So I switched the original character for journey with the two characters that mean tabi socks. (I'm so clever. ha ha)

For the right foot, I quoted the last stanza of Robert Louis Stevenson's poem Winter-Time, and decorated it with snow-flakes.

Black are my steps on silver sod; 
Thick blows my frosty breath abroad; 
And tree and house, and hill and lake, 
Are frosted like a wedding-cake.


  1. First off, just the whole idea of using them to paint on...!! :-)
    Second, the cultural info ..Thanks!
    Third, they're pretty!
    Fourth: wordplay!
    Last but not least : I love Robert Louis Stevenson ! :-)

  2. I am with Mary Keesling. I purchased a pair at one of the local Japanese Malls in SoCal due to an article injury of a my foot last summer. What we call "flip flops" was the most comfortable footwear I could find. And with summer and so many going for mani-pedi e's here, I really needed to have nice toe camoflage. Our dear Rachel Kopel even sent a Facebook Post on how to make them with regular stocking, bless her heart. So to me tab are a delightful personal statement of fashion for me...And Debbie, now you have me motivated to dig my white pair out (kept for a possible important occasion) and make a template for further projects. Thank you for your sharing...Get ready for a rush on new tabi!

  3. What a great idea! They look very pretty too.