Slippers were Created in Tokyo

Slippers were Created in Yaesu, Tokyo

Once you get home, you take off your shoes at the entrance and put slippers on. This is the moment when most Japanese people feel relaxed. From the sound of the name, slippers seem like they came from abroad, however, the origin of slippers is Tokyo, people say. Towards the end of the Edo Era to the beginning of Meiji Era, a lot of foreigners started coming to Japan. It is said that it was the first time for them to see Japanese houses with Tatami mats and a lot of foreigners tried to go into the houses with their shoes on. In Western culture, they never take their shoes off in front of others. Then, Mr. Toshisaburo Tokuno who was a tailor in Yaesu, Tokyo created shoe covers which people could wear over the top of their shoes. Allegedly this is the origin of slippers. Currently more and more Japanese people live in a wooden floored house, however the culture that people wear slippers remains and slippers have become one of the essential items for our daily lives.

Slippers were Created in Yaesu, Tokyo
Mr. Kazuo Ookawa at Ookawa Slipper Manufacturer. They make hand-sewn slippers one by one using a sewing machine.

The Beginning of the Wooden Floors and Apartment Complexes in the1960’s

Originally slippers were created for foreigners, however, from the Meiji Era to the time just before the First World War, wearing slippers at home became popular among the upper class people in Tokyo. More and more households had wooden floors and wearing slippers at home became customary. Also, houses with a guest room became more fashionable, so a lot of families bought a set of the same slippers for their guests. In the Showa period of rapid Japanese economic growth, the slipper manufacturing industry expanded to catch up with the increased demand. There were a lot of factories making slippers in the Adachi and Taito wards of Tokyo, but as the mass production in factories abroad became the mainstream, the amount of factories in Tokyo has decreased. Currently slippers are mainly made in Kahoku-cho in Yamagata prefecture.

The Beginning of the Wooden Floors and Apartment Complexes in the1960’s
Process of cutting soles

Slippers Became More of Us to Relax than for Guests

At Ookawa Slipper Manufacturer ran by Mr. Kazuo Ookawa, who is also the chairperson of The Tokyo Slipper Industrial Cooperative Association, they manufacture high-quality slippers mainly sold at department stores. Before, high-quality slippers with a felt sole and Gobelin pattern as guest slippers were more popular, but nowadays, wider slippers with more room are in trend. Also, there are variety of slippers made, such as the slippers made using the same fabrics as the furniture, cool slippers made from mesh, Charleston slippers and the Baboosh syle which came from Morocco. There are also order-made slippers, which are created from the customer’s foot patterns and the original slippers, which you wear over your shoes. At the chaotic period right after Japan opened their trade gates, slippers were the items that filled the gap between Japanese and foreign culture. But slippers are used to protect the wooden floors and also to reduce the noise caused from our daily lives. Slippers are one of TOKYO’s GOOD items that we can be very proud of.

Slippers Became More of Us to Relax than for Guests
The slippers on the far left have been used by many people over a long period of time. The middle ones and the ones on the far right are the slippers currently in fashion.


When did it start? From somewhere between the end of the Edo Era and the beginning of the Meiji Era, people say.
Where can we see this? At households, inns, hospitals and schools.
Data related to this topic: “Slippers as shoe covers” were introduced in “Western ways of living: food, clothes, house” written by Yukichi Fukuzawa in 1867.
In 1907, Mr. Toshisaburo Tokuno invented slippers
Please note: There are slippers that have a specific left and right, and those which don’t. If you feel uncomfortable with the current way of wearing your slippers, you might be wearing them the wrong way around.