Tokyo Shops Sells Comfortable, Colorful Fabric Zori; Traditional Japanese Sandals Allow Wearers to Stay Cool, Stylish While at Home

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Various types of fabric zori sold at Merikoti in Sumida Ward, Tokyo

Colorful, stylish and comfortable zori are displayed along an entire wall of a shop in Tokyo.

Zori, a traditional Japanese sandal, are usually meant for outdoor use, but as I was walking through an old part of Tokyo, I found ones that are made using a soft knit fabric called meriyasu, so they feel great on.

The store, called Merikoti, specializes in fabric zori made for indoor use and is located near Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo’s Sumida Ward.

The base of the zori is made by knitting strips of fabric into an oval shape. The zori come in various colors, including red, orange, dark green and lavender. Others are multicolored, including one that is yellow and gray.

The colors, which are reminiscent of those used to decorate the interiors of Northern European homes, go well with Japanese traditional sandals.

The designs for the fabric used to make the zori straps, called hanao, include embroidered flowers and patterns of a loquat, or biwa in Japanese, and bats with their wings extended.

One pair is made using a strawberry sherbet colored meriyasu for the base and fabric with a strawberry motif for the hanao.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Tsudoi Kodaka

The shop owner, Tsudoi Kodaka, 52, is a Tokyo native and the third-generation president of Kodaka Meriyasu Industrial Ltd., a 75-year-old local company with a factory that produces meriyasu knit fabric.

The company sells the material to apparel companies, but Kodaka decided to also make products that he could sell directly to consumers.

The decision led to the creation of zori made using meriyasu fabric. He opened the shop in 2014 and sells zori, socks and other items.

The material used for the zori base is woven from threads at his factory, and the company commissions craftspeople nationwide to weave the material into the zori shape. The processes of making the straps and connecting them to the base are also done by different craftspeople.

“The skills of many craftspeople are used to make our zori,” Kodaka said.

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A functional meriyasu knitting machine in the store

In the shop, there is an old weaving machine, which has been in use for about 80 years, to pass on the weaving technique to future generations.

The thick base of the fabric zori is soft and sturdy. It is also breathable and comfortable to wear, especially in summer. The store also sells tabi socks under the Tutumu brand, which can be worn with the zori.

Recently, the store has seen more foreign tourists than ever before.

“I want to show the charm of meriyasu to the world from this [shop],” Kodaka said.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Tutumu brand socks, which can be worn with fabric zori

Making your own

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A handmade kit to make zori sandals

Merikoti sells kits to make fabric zori at home. The kit includes the material for the base, which comes in various colors, and matching straps. Video instructions are included with the kit to show how the zori are put together.

The store also offers zori workshops, which include a course on how to make zori and a course on becoming an instructor. Visit the store’s website at for more information.