moesgaard museum, de etnografiske samlinger, ethnography, collections, museum, aarhus, denmark, japan

In Other Shoes – Japanese Bast Sandals

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Søren L. Tuxen, our shoe collector, did more than just collect the shoes. His passion for shoes powered a curiosity that led him to do extensive research on many of the shoes he collected. Having bought these sandals along from a Copenhagen antiques salesman, along with a pair of Chinese shoes, Tuxen originally thought these sandals were also Chinese.

“Bought September 2nd 1957. The sandals appear never to have been worn, since there are no signs of wear underneath. They are bound together by two bast braids, which appear to be a direct continuation of the bast in the shoes. The reason for this is very mysterious to me.”

Trying to solve the mystery, Tuxen consulted a couple of friends:

“January 22nd 1958. Spoke to engineer Eigin Suneson and doctor P. Aagaard Poulsen, who both lived in China for many years. They said that the sandals were Japanese, since no Chinese people wear sandals with string between the big toe and the other toes. The bast robe connecting the two shoes is probably just used to hang the sandals in the store!”

However a few years later Tuxen discovered a final truth about the sandals:

“October 9th 1962 doctor Shinji Suzuki told me that the bast robe is used to hang the sandals from your belt, since the sandals would be carried as a spare pair during hikes.”

If you are also into shoes, you can read more about Tuxen’s collection in this post.

// Emma Louise Pedersen


Photo: © 2007 Photo/Media Department of Moesgaard Museum.

Byline portrait: © 2015 Line Beck,

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putting thought to things

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