Japanese people have worn variations on woven straw sandals for over a thousand years. The simplest ones, known as warazori, slipped over the foot and were worn for daily labor.
Waraji had (and still have) ties to secure the shoe around the ankle, making them better suited for pilgrimages and other long-distance travel.
People sometimes offered, or presented, waraji to Buddhist temples as a prayer for strength, either to work or to complete a special pilgrimage or journey. Sometimes the sandals were normal-sized, but in some cases – like the giant 0-waraji that adorn the back side of the hozomon at Tokyo’s Senso-ji – the sandals are oversized and presented not as functional objects but as purely religious offerings.
The sandals are donated by a village that prepares a new pair of massive o-waraji about every decade. Each one weighs hundreds of pounds and the process – from growing and drying the straw to weaving the sandals takes many people to complete.
While visiting Japan last year, I bought a tiny pair of hand-woven straw sandals on a charm to hang from the day pack I’ll be using while climbing the hyakumeizan (hundred famous mountains) of Japan later this year. My pack is prepared, and even though I’m currently undergoing chemotherapy treatments relating to last year’s breast cancer diagnosis, I’m also still walking at least a mile a day – preparing my “sandals” for the hikes to come.
I’ll post a photo of my charm – and the others I plan to acquire on the hyakumeizan hikes – as the climbs get closer, but for now I’m focusing on staying in shape, moving forward, and putting on my sandals, mental and physical, in preparation for the adventure of a lifetime.
What have you done to move toward your dreams today? Get your sandals on, and let’s get moving!