The name Tsukumo comes from the belief that the Tsukumo God dwells when one uses an object long term. We want our customers to carry a similar fondness for our Tsukumo sandals, and wear them for a long time.
Tsukumo Sandals are completely handmade from the cut out to the thong. Attention is given to each sole and the length of the thong, which makes the sandal extremely comfortable, and one's toes do not hurt even after wearing for a long time. You don't get tired of it. Not only for the beach, it's wearable anywhere. We want you to carry a fondness for these sandals made just for you in Japan.
100 minus 1 is 99, the philosophy behind the Tsukumo name (in Kanji, Tsukumo literally means 99), is for us to always strive for a better product. Not only working on carrying the tradition, but we want our beach sandals to be even more comfortable to wear, for our customers to use it for a long time -- we continue producing our sandals with such passion.
In order to create the best slip on experience, mold making is key.
Even now, we carefully create the individual molds by hand. Traditionally, the mold making process involved banging on hot metal. "Is this an old setting?" is a question we sometimes get. "Yes, it's what we used when we bang on hot metal to make molds".. This is the type of interaction that reminds us of traditional mold making and craftsmanship.
Many of the beach sandals produced in Japanese factories have six lines on the thongs - called "Ropponsen". There are varying theories on why this came about; some say it looks like a knot, some say this particular design became mainstream, which may be easygoing idea particular to such a flourishing era. It's hard to say now, from when and who first started this, but this is Japan's manufacturing symbol and a proof of trust.
The sole is made of sturdy synthetic rubber, which gives off great color.
We hear from customers that the sole thins but the sandal feels like it's part of their own foot.
We use soft natural rubber for the thong to accommodate for the delicate skin between the toes, which minimizes stress on the foot.
"I avoid wearing shoes with thongs since it usually hurts, but this was different" - we sometimes hear this type of customer feedback. We're happy when customers understand our passion.
As we put much importance on comfort, the sole has a rough surface. To make the printing easy, the sole can be smooth. The uneven surface is the symbol of craftsmanship and the pride we take in this technology.
We are actively adopting new technology. We are now able to print in full color on an uneven rubber surface.
We're able to carve very small designs, although it may just look like a burn. This is what we want to call ultimate art.
Tsukumo sandals are all handmade. Since the 1950's, sandals have been created for utmost comfort. The craftsmanship has been continually passed down, until today.
The sole and the thong make up the beach sandal. The sole initially is a thin rubber board. By adding heat and pressure, the rubber expands and becomes a sheet. The craftsman needs to pay close attention to the rubber's expansion rate since this changes according to the weather or the color of the rubber, creating a subtle difference in the thickness between the toe and heel areas.
When the rubber sheet is ready, the sole needs to be cut out. From one rubber sheet, depending on the size, approximately 20 beach sandal soles are cut out. However, the location of the cut out needs to be determined carefully, otherwise there may be varying thicknesses between the toes and the heel, which ultimately affects the overall comfortability. This is again something that is determined by the craftsman's distinct abilities.
This process is called Anaguri, where the hole is widen a little bit to ensure the precise fitting of thong to back of the sole. This seems like an easy step, though if the depth is not handled properly, the thong comes out from the bottom or the sole itself becomes thin and without enough material strength, may break. This is also a process that is completed by the craftsman's hand.
The thong is made from natural rubber, from a mixture of rubber with varying dyes to create numerous colors. The rubber mixture is put into a mold, and the thong starts to take its shape after heat and pressure are applied. (At this point, it does not look like a thong but is all connected.)
The connected rubber is cut up in order for the thong to take shape. This also looks like an easy process, but can only be done by hand. If the cut is not done well, the customers' feet will hurt. It may seem like a miniscule detail, but requires a lot of attention and speed. (There are so many that needs to be produced.)
The process of putting on the thong to the sole is called "Sugeru". With a specific metal tool, the thong is put into place onto three holes of the sole. This also seems quite straightforward, but actually requires a lot of strength. If the thong goes in very easily, that means the hole is big and the thong may come out easily, so this needs to be done carefully.