written by
Tiffany Harte

What are Tabi Socks and Should You Own a Pair?

2 min read
striped tabi socks

Tabi socks are ankle-high socks that come with a design that is similar to the traditional Japanese socks, which date back to the 15th century. The primary feature about these socks is the separation between the big toes and the other toes. Besides, both women and men wear these socks with traditional thronged footwear such as geta and zori. They are also considered ideal for conventional clothing like wafuku, kimono and are also worn by samurai during the era of feudal.

Moreover, Tabi socks are also worn in formal situations like tea ceremonies in Japan and the most common color for such functions is white. Men wear black and blue tabi socks sometimes for traveling. Tabi socks are also available in colored and patterned designs that are mainly worn by women, but they are increasingly becoming popular with men as well.

Unlike the socks that come with elastic weave that allows them to fit snugly on foot, tabi is made from cloth cut to form. Consequently, they are open at the back for easy slipping on and thus require a row of fasteners to keep the opening closed.

Tea Ceremony in Kyoto in Japan.
Photographer: Roméo A. | Source: Unsplash

The modern version of tabi are available and usually comes with similar features, which include separation between the big toe and other toes to allow you wear with thronged footwear. Therefore, the contemporary version pair modern materials with the split toe design of the traditional tabi. This means that a number of people still enjoy the experience of wearing geta and zori, especially during hot, humid summers in Japan. Besides, the item is related to toe socks, which comes with five compartments for each toe.

Why You Should Own a Pair of Tabi Socks

Tabi socks stretch and pull on just like regular socks, but as mentioned above they do not have a clasp closure. Thus, they require a row of fastenings. This makes it easy to wear and take them off your feet. Moreover, the split toe design means that they are suitable to wear with traditional Japanese footwear, or with usual sandals and slippers. The model also offers some health benefits as they allow free circulation of air. This makes them ideal for hot, humid summer weather. Finally, tabi socks are available in different colors and patterns, which mean that you are more likely to get a stylish item that suits your needs.


The traditional tabi socks are made of stiffer materials than normal socks and thus provide extra protection to your feet, which explains why they are still worn even today. On the other hand, new tabi socks are just like the regular socks, but feature the split toe design and hook fastenings to close the openings. Tabi socks are worn with traditional Japanese clothing like kimono and when people wear wafuku or during formal situations like tea ceremonies. Besides, tabi socks are available in a wide range of colors and patterns, which allows you to get a suitable item for work or character. Tabi socks are available in most departmental stores and also in kimono shops in Japan.