Recently, I started wearing five-toed socks or gohon yubi sokkusu (五本指ソックス) recently after a purchase at REI and they feel great.1
Five-toed socks are pretty common in Japan, and my wife and her family often wear them. The advantage is that your toes are separated and can spread out more easily, so it’s healthy for your feet. However, my shoe size is US13 (UK12 or 31cm in Japan), so my feet are quite large. I’ve been to Tabio stores and sometimes I’ve been to big-and-tall shops in Japan2 but they usually just don’t make five-toed socks in that size or anything near it. If I order online through Rakuten and such, they still don’t always have my size (but the selection is still pretty good).
But when I was at REI looking for good winter shoes, I found some socks by a company called Ijinji. These are not Japanese-style socks, but they do have five-toes and are basically the same. Since they are high-end “performance” socks, they were pretty expensive.
I was worried the first time I tried them on, but they fit my feet really well. It was very strange at first, because I am not used to having something between my toes all the time, or having my toes wrapped individually, but I got used to it quickly.
Now I wish I had purchased more pairs. Thankfully though, my office is located very close to the original REI store, so I could probably walk over there during lunchbreak and purchase more.
If you have foot problems, you may want to gift five-toed socks a try.
1 A good friend in Japan wanted to try out the big-and-tall shop in her neighborhood near Yokosuka, and invited me along as the test “subject”. I found some good items there, but no five-toed socks. Some items were a bit touristy (I don’t usually wear things that say 武士道 on them), but I did find some great socks I regularly wear among other items.
2 REI is a good place to go to get that “Seattle style”. Everyone here dresses like they are going camping.