On yet another wonderful shopping expedition with Mrs. Expat last week (yes, she does read these posts), she mentioned something that I had never noticed before. As we were walking home, she mentioned that she had noticed a large number of Japanese women who seemed to have purchased shoes much too large for their feet.
Being more of a knees to neck type of expat man (aren’t we all?), I had never noticed this before. Of course, the female of the species is geared to notice the competition (not you, honey; no one can compete with you!). However, on reflection, I did remember a disproportionate number of young ladies who seemed to have mistaken their mother’s shoe’s for their own.
As an engineer, I can’t leave a puzzle alone; it’s just the way we are. I had to get to the bottom of the Big Shoe Mystery. After delivering Mrs. Expat home, I went in search of an answer. I polled my friends, (well, the guys who were sitting next to me in TGIF’s last night) and they came up with some explanations:
The first explanation was that Japanese shoes come in three sizes, small, medium, and large. This is supposed to fit every Japanese woman from the petite city girl to the large hoofed farm dweller. Obviously, it will sometimes occur that Ms. Petite will find the shoes she loves available only in the clodhopper size. Torn between fashion and comfort, she will opt for fashion. Ms. Clodhopper, on the other hand (poor soul) will not be able to wear Ms. Petite’s fashionable shoes no matter how much she squeezes. This will result in a large number of women wearing fashionable but large shoes.
Next, another fellow imbiber opined that a high class Japanese woman, in her search for the latest fashion, will purchase a pair of stylish European or American shoes. She will only be able to find women’s fashion in sizes that, to a Japanese, are larger than large. Being larger than large is a boon to Western men, but a bane to Western women. As we round eyes know, American and European women have big feet. I won’t dwell on the comparison between feet and other body parts, but you know what I’m talking about. In any case, the high class Japanese woman has to make do with the smallest “Big Shoes” she can find.
And lastly, another of the group had an even more outlandish explanation. He surmised that the Big Shoe phenomena was an attempt by Japanese women to key into a common Japanese fantasy; namely the “Koonago Mystique.” Koonago translates roughly as “Shrinking Woman”. He explained that a large subset of Japanese men have active fantasies about shrinking women and control over them. As evidence, he showed us a website on his cell phone called:
His theory is that local women, perhaps unconsciously, wear “Big Shoes” to excite their men. Unfortunately, he could find no one in the bar to agree with him. We did agree to not drink with him anymore.
So there you have three explanations for the “Big Shoe” phenomena. Feel free to offer up your own theories in the comments section.