Barefoot Running Finally Reaches Japan

Tsuyoshi Yoshino has been running barefoot for over five years. Photo::

In a country with a tradition of removing footwear, there are surprisingly few barefoot runners.

Last July, Tokyo resident Tsuyoshi Yoshino founded the Japan Barefoot Running Club. The club only has about 30 members and meets twice a week in Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park.

“We get new people whenever we’re covered on morning news shows,” Yoshino says. “But there we’re treated as an oddity. What I find strange is that Japan has a culture where we’re always taking off our shoes–people know that it feels good to go barefoot. But they draw the line when it comes to running.”

Yoshino began running five years ago when he was a graduate student living in the United States. He is a sports biomechanist.

Like most barefoot enthusiasts, Yoshino urges moderation for his new members.

“The human body is designed to run without shoes,” he says. “But in this day and age, it’s something we’re unfamiliar with. If you start suddenly, you’re going to hurt yourself.”

Yoshino admits that one of barefoot running’s disadvantages is causing you to miss the scenery as you scan the ground in front of you.

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