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Sunday, Aug. 12, 2001
Treat your feet
By YUKO NAITO
Be they fashion- or health-related, there are products galore to answer our every foot need. In Japan, many are wrapped up in trends, traditional culture and daily habits.
Take, for example, the popularity of mules and sandals. Even though they are usually worn sockless, many women still wear them with pantyhose or sheer, long socks. The reason is that the display of bare legs and feet is not allowed at many workplaces, even in midsummer. It is considered too casual or even rude, especially in front of seniors, customers and guests.
A clever solution emerged in the form of stockings that don't require garter belts. Inner silicone bands keep them in place. Leading the trend was Stay Fit (1,200 yen for a pair, 600 yen for a spare, Train International), first imported from Italy a couple of years ago. Many stocking-makers have since introduced similar products. No longer a rarity, garterless stockings can now be found at convenience stores across the country.
Innovations for feet don't stop there.
To prevent shoe sores, for instance, there is Kutsuzure Boshi Stick (400 yen, Mandam Corp.). This lipstick-type grease is rubbed on problem spots to lubricate the skin and reduce the risk of getting sores.
For insole stickiness, you can use good old talcum powder, but Ashimoto Sarasara powder (980 yen, Cogit Co.) contains alum and green-tea extract, which are believed to have sterilizing and deodorizing properties.
Not surprisingly in a country where the removal of shoes indoors is a tradition, a wide variety of goods are developed to combat strong foot odor. Among the various kinds of foot sprays, available at any drugstore, is Sarasara Foot Spray (450 yen, Mandam Corp.), which contains a powder ingredient that makes your feet feel dry. There are also shoe deodorants to combat the smell of absorbed sweat, such as Jokin Shoshu Spray (770 yen, Kowa Health Care).
If you're on the move with sticky, stinky feet, try 8x4 Suashi Seiketsu Ashi Fukitori Sheet (280 yen, Kao, 16 sheets), disposable wet cloths that can, with one fell wipe, banish stickiness and nasty odor.
Mule-wearers on the move often complain of sole shock. To reduce this, Wacoal introduced special pads called Mule In (600 yen). You only have to put your big toe and little toe through elastic loops attached to the oval-shaped pads.
And after all that moving about, you can bet that your legs and feet are going to be tired and stiff. A nice soak in cold water might do the trick, but why not try Ashi Sukkiri Spray Kyusokujikan (620 yen, Lion)? This ice-cold mist contains a refreshing herbal extract and can be used anywhere. It can even be sprayed over sheer stockings because it doesn't leave a white residue.
Going a step further is Ashiura Mokusaku Jueki Sheet (980 yen, Cogit Co., eight sheets), "healing sheets" of mokusaku-eki (tree sap obtained in the process of making charcoal) that are applied to the soles before going to bed. The sheet will have turned brown the next morning, which proves -- according to the package -- that it has absorbed "excessive moisture." Though the actual mechanism is unclear, many makers have produced similar sole sheets.
So what are you waiting for? Treat your feet (and people around them) to something special today.