This April will mark two years of being in Japan. Two years.
No time to be nostalgic now, though! We have to talk about socks.
It’s funny that after all this time, I can’t remember whether foot mittens are an actual thing you actually can buy in Australia. Giving it some thought now, I seem to remember the answer was “no”. I think.
Not long after I came to Japan, I saw a Japanese co-worker wearing socks like this. I thought they were a pretty weird. Definitely a bit weird.
Fast-forward 20 months living in Japan. I’m in Uniqlo, a massive low-cost clothing chain in Japan. I’m buying socks, 3 for 1000 yen (cheap!). There’s a massive rack of all kinds of socks in front of me. Different colours, different styles. I’m carefully choosing socks, leafing through the various types, evaluating durability, thickness, elasticity, thinking about which socks might go well with a tuxedo, which with sandals. Normal questions one asks when buying socks.
I buy the foot mittens. I don’t even give it a second thought. I believe I have made a normal transaction for a normal Japanese clothing item.
Of course, on their first outing at one of the many restaurants here where you have to take off your shoes, my socks are instantly noticed. I am told with no uncertainty and much good-natured laughing that “only old men” wear sock mittens. I did not know that. I did not know that only old men wear sock mittens. It might have been useful if this information was printed on the paper wrapper that the socks are packaged in.
However! I discover that there’s something very comforting about having your toes neatly compartmentalised. Before I discovered sock mittens, my toes jostled around like a sack of potatoes. Now, they’ve each got their own little uniform. They’re on the same team. I have brought order to my feet.
Plus, if you’re slightly tipsy, you can almost believe you have suddenly become very skillful at walking on your hands (I am not making this up).
So – can I pitch these to the same guys that inexplicably made Ugg boots popular? I’ll get a cut, right?