Best Ninja Tabi Boots Reviewed & Rated

Japanese Tabi shoes have been around for centuries and are a type of shoe design that Japanese people prefer to wear compared to regular shoes; this is because of the split toe design Tabi shoes have. Instead of a shoe that completely encloses all the toes together, a Tabi shoe has a separate cutout for the big toe. The idea behind the design is to allow wearers to “feel” the ground better. Being able to feel the ground means you can detect the small changes in height and texture, which allows your feel to adapt easier.

There was also another use for Tabi shoes in the history of Japan, and that is by the Ninjas. Ninjas were people that were paid mercenaries or assassins. These people usually needed to find a way to move around quickly and quietly. Because most Tabi shoes were largely constructed with cotton and a little bit of rubber, it made for an ideal shoe to carry out their tasks in. The Tabi shoes were also lightweight so they could run for miles without feeling fatigued and the split toe allowed for better movement during an attack.

Featured Recommendations

Marugo Air Jog 6
  • Marugo Air Jog 6
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Rubbe Outsole
  • Low and High Tops
  • Price: See Here
Rikio Jikatabi Fighter
  • Rikio Jikatabi Fighter
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Flexible
  • Cotton
  • Price: See Here
Samurai Jikatabi Shoes
  • Samurai Jikatabi Shoes
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Lightweight
  • Grip and Traction
  • Price: See Here

From the very beginnings of man, humans have always worn some sort of footwear. We first started with wearing things like animal skins or constructed branches to protect our feet from objects and the cold. As we progressed, our shoes were made from different types of leather and fabric. Slowly, shoes were started to be developed as fashion accessories, or items to look nice. Without realizing it, the modern shoe today causes a lot of physical health problems. Most of the problems were focused around the bones and muscles of our feet and ankle area.

Nowadays, most shoes are not made to be comfortable and can cause problems if worn too long. Tabi shoes will actually help improve and fix any conditions that you may have that are caused by your feet. The separation of your big toe and other toes allow you to balance properly how we did thousands of years ago. The shoes can help align the bones of your feet and improve the arches in our feet that many of us have lost. Having the proper bone and muscle alignment on your feet will realign everything from your pelvis to your head. Your entire bone structure can be realigned by wearing Tabi shoes, leading to a stronger body.

 

10 Best Tabi Boots

 

1. Marugo Air Jog 6

The Marugo brand is the most popular and well-known brand on the market. They are a trusted company who has been making these Japanese shoes since the beginning of time. They are the only ones that have dared to experiment and come up with a product like this one.
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Rubber Outsole
This product uses a thick rubber liner on the outside the shoe. This prevents sharp options from penetrating the shoe or potentially cutting the food. The rubber used is a high-quality rubber that is extra durable and thicker so that it takes more to completely cut through, offering your foot a higher level of protection.

Grip and Traction
Most Tabi shoes do not have a rubber sole. While it enables you to move smoothly and silently, it does not offer very much grip. A lot of floors now require the shoes to have the grip to prevent one from slipping. The rubber outsole on this product has wavy ridges cut into the rubber to ensure a stronger grip against the floor.

Cost and Value
This product is more on the expensive side, however, this is the go-to brand if you’re looking for Tabi shoes. The expensive cost also accounts for the fact that there are no other products on the market that offer the rubber outsole. If you’re looking for something to protect your feet, this will do the trick.
Pros
  • Unique
  • Protective
  • High quality rubber
  • Durable
  • Trusted brand
Cons
  • Expensive

2. Rikio Jikatabi Fighter

Historically, fighter shoes are what ninjas wore in Japan. As ninjas are a paid assassin, they needed to be able to move around silently. This product is made of cotton, which is not only durable but also breathable. The flexibility factor also allowed ninjas to sneak up on people.
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Flexible
This item is extremely flexible when it is being worn. The shoe will follow the contours of your feet and will adapt to every movement your foot makes. It feels like a second skin as most have continued to have complete flexibility and control over their foot despite wearing something on top.

Cotton
This product is made of a high-quality cotton which makes the shoe very breathable. Most people that wear items like these tend to get very hot feet, simply because these go up the calf and keeps the heat in. Using cotton will allow for the trapped heat to escape, thus cooling your food down.

Cost and Value
Depending on the size you’re looking for, this item comes in a range of prices. Overall this is an affordable product that can meet what you are looking for in footwear. The added benefit is that they are breathable and very comfortable to wear.
Pros
  • Good quality
  • Flexible
  • Sturdy
  • Machine washable
  • Affordable
Cons
  • May run small

3. Marugo Sports Jog

This product was meant to be used in harsh weather conditions. There is a leather strap on the top to ensure that these stay on your feet. On top of the layer of cotton, these have a layer of leather to keep the rain out and the heat inside your foot.
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Protective
Unlike other Tabi shoes, these were designed to be used outdoors. They resemble most footwear with the exception of their distinctive split between the big toe and other toes. They have a leather coating that protects them from the elements while maintaining how comfortable they are to wear.

Functional
This product was designed to be functional and help improve your mobility. They are able to help improve your posture and give you extra mobility compared to normal shoes. This product helps train the dexterity of your toes, allow you to be more balanced and maintain control when you are put in irregular stances.

Cost and Value
This product is more expensive in comparison to other Tabi shoes. However, these are the most rugged ones you will find on the market. They are designed especially to protect against the elements and allow your feet to be comfortable despite the harsh weather conditions.
Pros
  • Improved dexterity
  • Flexible
  • Rugged
  • Protects against weather
  • Durable
Cons
  • Expensive

4. Samurai Jikatabi Shoes

4. Samurai Jikatabi Shoes
This product is designed with simplicity in mind. It is constructed with just using cotton and rubber. With the exception of the outsole, the entire footwear is made with a single layer of cotton. This allows ventilation during hot summer months and keeps the heat in during cold winters.
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Lightweight
Most people enjoy wearing Tabi shoes because regular shoes tend to be bulky and more cumbersome. This product is super lightweight as it is made with very minimal material. Despite the lack of material, this item is diligently constructed to be very tough and comfortable at the same time.

Grip and Traction
These feature a rubber outsole that will protect you from slipping on any surface. There are thick rubber lines that break up the bottom so that the rubber can catch better on the floor. An additional feature is a bumpy rubber at the very tip of the shoe and at the heel. These little bumps are designed so that you don’t slip when you are turning or pivoting your foot.

Cost and Value
This product is a great purchase and is very affordable despite all the benefits of this footwear. They are a product that is a very low price point but much more value than what you pay. The clever design of the outsole guarantees that you will not fall even if you’re on a slippery surface.
Pros
  • Simple construction materials
  • Lightweight
  • Long lasting
  • Machine washable
  • Strong grip
Cons
  • Can get cold wearing the in the winter

5. Marugo Flying Eagle

5. Marugo Flying Eagle
Marugo is a brand that is well known to be innovative. Their beginnings started with manufacturing Tabi socks and later on evolved to making Tabi Shoes. To beat out competitors, the Marugo brand has continually researched and developed different types of footwear that no other brands have done before.
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Versatile
This product was constructed to be versatile. It has many uses in your daily life. You can wear them as footwear on a normal basis, or opt to use them during martial arts training. They can be used for many types of martial arts training and often are a sign of respect as you are not using your outdoor shoes to train.

Breathable
Anyone that plays a sport can attest to the fact that your feet can get really hot in the footwear. This product is made of cotton, which is a highly breathable material that can help remove the trapped heat. The stitching in the cotton has tiny holes that can also allow for cold air to get into the footwear, thus a more comfortable experience.

Cost and Value
Depending on the size of your feet, these shoes can get expensive. They are worth the investment as there are many uses for a pair of Tabi Shoes. They are versatile enough that you can use them in multiple ways, thus eliminating the need to buy specialized shoes for going out and training.
Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Ventilation
  • Versatile
  • Affordable
  • Flexible
Cons
  • Difficult to secure clips

6. Spike Tabi Shoes

6. Spike Tabi Shoes
This product is one of a kind. Instead of cotton, it uses a thick canvas material making the shoe much stronger and more durable. It also uses a treated rubber on the outside of the shoe to lengthen the lifespan of the product.
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Rubber Coating
This product was designed to be used outside, which is they have chosen different materials in comparison to other brands. To ensure it protects your foot when it needs to, a rubber coating has been applied to the canvas material. This makes it much stronger and able to withstand harsh weather conditions.

Spikes
Unlike any other Tabi footwear on the market, this product comes with spikes. The spikes are meant to allow for an extra bite into a slippery surface and will prevent you from slipping. They are not recommended to be used on grass as you may run the risk of sinking into the soft soil.

Cost and Value
Despite the expensive price tag, this is a product that is worth every penny you spend. It is a great alternative for the outdoors if you do not want to wear boots. Instead of using cotton, this product is made with a thicker and stronger canvas material. While it may not be as soft and comfortable, it is much longer lasting and will definitely protect you if you’re out in the cold.
Pros
  • Protective
  • Tough materials
  • Spiked
  • Proper grip and traction
  • Long lasting
Cons
  • Canvas may be rough

7. Marugo Mannen

7. Marugo Mannen
These shoes were designed to be as lightweight and comfortable as possible. The split between the big toe and other toes allow your feet to pivot faster and be more stable when doing quick movements. The materials that the shoe is constructed with is also very breathable and will help to eliminate odors.
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Toe Grip
A common misconception people have is that losing a toe is better than losing a finger. In reality, every toe contributes to the way you walk and your balance. This product gives your big toe a separate area within the shoe which can greatly increase your control and balance over your feet.

Odor Preventing
This product has an added benefit, which is odor eliminating. Most shoes that develop an odor is because bacteria and germs have moved into the shoe and made it home. When there is a dark and warm environment coupled with the sweat from your feet, it will cause a reaction and odor-emitting germs can develop. This materials in this product aim to ventilate and keep a positive air circulation within the shoe.

Cost and Value
While these are on the expensive side, they are worth the investment. This footwear will keep your feet cool and prevent them from developing funky smells while. They are comfortable enough and give people more control over their feet.
Pros
  • Odor eliminating
  • Strengthened balance
  • Quick pivoting
  • Machine washable
  • Better grip
Cons
  • Expensive

8. Rikio Low Top Tabi

8. Rikio Low Top Tabi
The original Tabi design is to have a shoe that goes up to the calf. However, the product that Rikio has constructed is a low top that ends near the ankle area. This allows for better control and mobility while still ensuring the comforts of wearing a Tabi shoe.
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Low Top
Unlike other products, this Tabi shoe has a low top. This means that the top of the shoe ends approximately in the ankle area. This allows for completely three hundred sixty rotation of your ankle which can improve your reaction time greatly.

Slip on
Most products of this kind require you to latch up your shoes. This product has no laces and no latching, allowing you to easily slip on or take off the shoe. This will decrease the amount of time you need taking off your gear and also eliminates the hassle of trying to get all the clasps off.

Cost and Value
Depending on the size and color, this product can be quite affordable or very expensive. If you are looking for something basic and as an entry level product into the world of Tabi shoes, this is a great beginner shoe. It is comfortable and does not restrict your movement as much as a shoe that extends up the calf would.
Pros
  • Comfortable
  • Ankle pivot
  • Increased mobility
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to wear
Cons
  • Constructed narrow

9. Ace Martial Arts Tabi Shoe

9. Ace Martial Arts Tabi Shoe
Tabi shoes are a type of Japanese footwear that is rich in culture. As a result, there are many manufacturers that tend to stick to the rigid rules of building a Tabi shoe. This brand has not only broken free from their roots but also listened to the needs of wearers, creating a product that actually suits the needs of people.
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Customizable
This product was made to be completely customizable. Many people are unable to wear Tabi shoes as these type of footwear extend up to their calf. Most people do not have a perfect foot and calf ratio, meaning that if it fits their feet the calf area may be too loose and vice versa. To prevent this, these Tabi shoes have a Velcro that goes completely down the calf, allowing you to adjust for the correct tightness you want.

Protection
This product is what is known as an outdoor Tabi. This means that these shoes are suitable to be worn outside in the elements. These have a reinforced heel and toe area that makes the footwear more durable. The rubber outsole will also prevent your feet from getting hurt.

Cost and Value
This product comes into the market at a very low price point. If you are looking for something to wear outside, this product will be the most cost-efficient thing you will find. They are strong enough to withstand the harsh weather conditions and also do an excellent job of protecting your wallet.
Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • Suited for outdoors
  • Rubber outsole
  • Long lasting
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Sizing issues

10. Macho Martial Arts Short Tabi

10. Macho Martial Arts Short Tabi
This product takes the best of all kind of Tabi shoes and puts them into one. The low build on the shoe means the user has complete control over their movement. The shoe is also secured using a velcro in the back, meaning the user can adjust it to the exact size they are looking for. This product does not compromise on comfort and usability.
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Quality Material
This product is made from a thick canvas material. The stronger material means that the product can last longer and will not easily tear from small nicks and scratches. The canvas also works as a stronger type of fabric that is much more difficult to penetrate, allowing for a longer lifespan of the product.

Split Toe Design
This product mimics the natural movements of your toes. Most people do not realize that their big toe almost always moves individually from the rest of their toes. Having a dedicated place for your big toe in the shoe will allow for increased dexterity and better balance. It also adds to the natural gripping ability your big toe has.

Cost and Value
This item is quite affordable and is reasonably priced. Including the features mentioned above, this item also has a low top, meaning there is unrestricted movement for your ankle. Overall, this product is worth every penny you will spend.
Pros
  • User friendly
  • Short
  • Durable
  • Canvas
  • Long lasting
Cons
  • Run big

There are many types of Tabi shoes available on the market. The key is to find one that will suit your needs. The overall idea of wearing a footwear like this is that they are lightweight and comfortable. They will keep your feet cool and feeling fresh during hot summer months. This type of product will also greatly increase your dexterity as it allows your big toe to move completely unhindered by the other toes. This can minimize the amount of room you need to pivot and can allow you to turn on the spot. This is incredibly beneficial for martial arts training as even the smallest bit of room can make a difference. If you are not into martial arts training, this footwear is also a great product for daily use, allowing you to wear them for long periods of time without feeling fatigued.

Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Tabi Boots

Indoor or Outdoor

One of the first things to decide when you are purchasing a pair of Tabi shoes is what they are going to be used for. There are two main types of Tabi shoes: indoors and outdoors.

The indoor Tabi shoe is very light and is similar to a sock. It is usually made of one layer of cotton with a slightly thicker bottom. Many people have likened the feeling of wearing thick socks indoors. Indoor Tabi shoes are ideal for martial arts training as they are light and uses a minimal amount of energy, thus saving your stamina and endurance for your actual training. They are also well suited to be worn at home as an alternative to slippers as they are very comfortable. The disadvantage of indoor Tabi shoes is that they can be quite slippery as they use the natural grip your big toe has versus an outsole with ridges. This can potentially translate to an injury by slipping. Another possible disadvantage is that because the cotton is so thin, it can rip easily thus shortening the lifespan of your product.

An outdoor Tabi shoe is completely different. It is similar to a gumboot but with a split toe design. Outdoor Tabi’s are usually made of a thicker and more durable type of material. Usually, they are made of a thick canvas which is much harder to penetrate compared to cotton. Most outdoor Tabi’s are also treated with chemicals to protect it against the elements and to keep your feet warm. They also have a thick outsole which is made of rubber and can fully grip the slippery surfaces you may be stepping on. These are ideal shoes for you to wear during the winter months and are a great alternative to snow boots. The disadvantage of these shoes is that they are much heavier and bulkier compared to the indoor ones. They are also not as versatile and have a habit of keeping the heat inside your shoe. While it is good during the winter, the trapped heat may also cause bacteria and germs to spread.

Securing Mechanism

Most Tabi shoes use a traditional way of securing the shoe which is known as kohaze. Sewn into the inside of the shoe are clasps that resemble a fingernail. On the opposite side of the shoe, there are these hoops or hooks that are meant to go around the clasp. On a long Tabi, there will be twelve clasps and on a short Tabi, there will be three. This is a very traditional way of securing clothing which the Japanese still use. It is a great way to ensure the security of your shoe without compromising the way it looks.

As Tabi shoes made their way to America, an alternative way to secure the shoe was born. Many people found it cumbersome tedious to have to hook twelve clasps in a shoe. As a result, American manufactured Tabi shoes come with a Velcro enclosure. The Velcro also allows people to tighten the shoe to their own comfort level. There has been some backlash in regards to putting the Velcro onto the Tabi shoe as there have been complaints that it is destroying the history of the shoe.

Length

There are two lengths in a Tabi shoe: Mid-calf and low tops. A Tabi shoe that extends up to the middle of your calf is the most traditional type of Tabi shoe you can get. These are great as they keep your legs and feet comfortable and offer ankle support to those looking for that. They are also much more protective against knicks and scratches as they cover more of your leg area. The downfall of these longer Tabi shoes is that they do slightly restrict your movement. As your ankle is inside the shoe, it does not allow for full rotation of your ankle. This may translate you the shoe preventing you from moving a certain way.

The low top Tabi shoe will stop at the ankle. While this means that your ankle is completely free to move, it will not offer you the support you may need for your particular sport. An ankle that is not supported can translate to an injury. The longer Tabi shoe uses the structure of the shoe to keep your ankle in place, however, a low top Tabi will not prevent you from hurting yourself when you are in an unbalanced state. A particularly strong or fast attack may cause you to lose your balance when you are trying to defend yourself.

Frequently Asked Question

 

Q. How do I size Tabi Shoes?
A
. The sizing for Tabi shoes is no different from the sizing for your other shoes. If you know the size you wear, it is safe to purchase a pair of Tabi shoes in the same size.

Q. Are there Tabi Shoes for Kids?
A. Absolutely, just like any shoes, Tabi shoes come in a wide variety of adult and children sizes. As a reminder, because these shoes have a split toe it will take a child longer to get used to them.

Q. Why should I wear Tabi Shoes?
A. Despite the weird look, the split toe design has many health properties. It can help keep your bone structure aligned and also improve your balance.

Q. Where can I get a pair of Tabi Shoes?
A. You can usually purchase them online otherwise they can only be purchased at martial arts stores. An alternative is also to custom order them from Japan as there are many Japanese trained shoemakers that still make them by hand and to order.

Q. Are Tabi Shoes Comfortable?
A. 
Despite the way they look, they are much more comfortable than your regular shoes. This is because it practices stretching your big toe away from your other toes, which is now our predecessors used to walk. It calls for better posture and decreased reaction time when you are about to fall or trip.

Q. Can I wash my Tabi Shoes in the Washer?
A. 
If your Tabi shoes are indoor ones, absolutely. Do not put them in the dryer as they may shrink, simply air dry in a cool place. It is not recommended for you to put outdoor Tabi shoes in the washer as it may damage the integrity of the shoe. The rubber may reform from the heat and the chemically treated fabric may react as well.

Sources

  1. Aoyama Kohaze, WHAT IS KOHAZE, Jun 16, 2018
  2. Tabi-ji, FAQ, Jun 16, 2018
  3. Tabi-Ji, Tabi ABC, Jun 16, 2018