I train in one of the martial arts where Tabi is often used. I am about to order a pair of leather Tabi and have a question regarding measurement.

The International Shoe Size Conversion Charts Table from www.i18nguy.com/l10n/shoes.html looks like this:

International Shoe Size Conversion Charts Table from www.i18nguy.com/l10n/shoes.html

  • Why is there a difference between Centimeters and Japan(M)? I thought you measured, in centimeters, from the heel to the end of the longest toe and that it was you size according to the japanese shoe size convention. And if that is correct, I would assume that these rows would line up perfectly.

The actual vendor I am thinking about ordering from has this conversion table at www.leathertabi.net/footsizechart.html: Shoe size conversion table from www.leathertabi.net/footsizechart.html

  • It does not match up with the previous conversion table. Any thoughts on that?
  • What is the correct way to measure the foot and converting it to the japanese shoe size system?
  • I am not sure the question should be on topic since it involves shoe size which are not really martial art specific. Maybe Japan language would be a better place to ask? However, the question itself is very well phrased, researched, and interesting to martial artists so I vote we keep it! BTW +1. Commented Mar 26, 2013 at 7:46
  • 1
    Tabi is considered training equipment in some martial arts, which is why I reasoned it is on topic. I am sure we can find other concepts and equipment which are important to some martial arts but also has other uses. That being said, it might not be a good place to get an answer. But that has more to do with the current state of this site.
    – Deleted
    Commented Mar 26, 2013 at 15:55
  • I checked out Japan language, it is defenitely off topic there as they only seem to disuss the language.
    – Deleted
    Commented Mar 26, 2013 at 16:00
  • I was unsure and to be honest, I like the question so it should remain open! ^_~ Commented Mar 26, 2013 at 17:30

1 Answer 1


When ordering Tabi, always use centimeters. If your foot is shorter than 10.5 US, you're in luck; you can actually use a piece of 8.5"x11" paper. Put your foot across the paper, your longest toe to one corner, heel toward the opposite, and use a pencil to make close to both. Then measure with a standard tape measure.

You do not want to upsize tabi if you can avoid it. In shoes, sometimes you want a 10.5, others an 11, still others a 10. This is not the case for Tabi. Tabi are traditionally made out of cotton, with a sole of leather or flannel. Leather tabi in the Bujinkan have a rather amusing story relating to Soke and an adult boutique, and are not common inside Japan in the martial arts community.

Either way, you do not upsize tabi because you wear them against your feet, and your feet sweat and stretch them, which allows them to conform better to your foot. There's a reason for keeping your feet warm related to TCM/TJM, namely that major meridians run to the feet. If nothing else, tight tabi will keep you from tripping.

Just a tip, if you do order from leathertabi.net; include in the comments the length of the big toe from from the tip of the toe to the fold above the ball of the foot on both sides. These used to be made to order (I don't know if they still are, but I still include that measurement every time I order), but if they are, you'll get a better fit.

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