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Hunting for large size shoes in Japan

If you are female and your shoe size is more than 25 cm in Japan, that’s a problem. I mean, it is a HUGE problem! It means that you are «outsize». If you ever had to buy your footwear labeled «unisex», you know what I mean.

The biggest issue is that I am not desperate enough just to walk into the store and buy any pair that fits me at any price! I really need to feel that the shoes fit well, are comfortable enough and will not give me blisters after the first 10 minutes of wearing them, and, most importantly, they must NOT look like I stole them from my grannies closet. Also, they must be reasonably priced. After all, I am not Carrie Bradshaw or Becky Brandon, and can’t spend all my salary on shoes.


This said, more often than not the fruitless pursuit of trying on many pairs of shoes leaves the shop assistant and me equally frustrated. I knew about the big-size shortage in Japan before actually moving here, I dreaded it and yet I didn’t take it seriously enough. I wish I had brought enough boots, sandals and shoes to last me for 5 years or more… Don’t repeat my mistake! In case you do and there’s no way for you to get back home in the near future; here is my list of shoe shops for foreign women with large foot sizes.

In this harsh world of tiny Japanese sizes Germany and Austria are our friends! Brand stores of Think! (Austria) in Tokyo stock sizes up to 39. Almost all pairs are wide enough (3E). The design of the shop in Omotesando is too cool to miss out on a chance to take a photo.


«Total foot care house» (ドイツ足の健康館) in Moto-Azabu occasionally has some Think! shoes in size 40, as well as German and Spanish shoes such as Rieker, Picolinos etc. It’s heaven if you are financially prepared to invest in footwear that lasts.


Bob’s Fit Market (Kagurazaka, Kyobashi, Hamamatsucho) specializes in shoes hand-made in Japan, but stocks Rieker shoes in big sizes at prices much more reasonable that online.

Zara: if you are quick enough, you can find your size at the beginning of the season. But as the shop specializes mainly in clothes, the chances are that you won’t find anything worth your attention.

H&M: a last resort for tired foreigners looking for cheap flats, sneakers or boots. With a little luck, they will last more than one season.

Oriental Traffic: Cute and rather cheap, but not durable and narrow.


Among the brands to buy on Japanese Amazon are Carlo Rosetti (Mexico) and Dr Scholl’s (Germany): their downside is that only their upper is real leather; sometimes they are  completely man-made. The quality of leather also differs considerably.

Don’t get me wrong, most of the shoes on my list are designed in Europe or Japan, but are actually made in China, Bosnia, Serbia, Romania etc. Carlo Rosetti footwear is designed and made in Mexico.

Article by Olga Kaneda

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