Inaka Lifestyle

backpacking and international travel shoes

BEST Shoes to Walk and Travel in Japan

Table of Contents

What Is the Best Shoe to Bring to Japan?

I remember well the first time I took a Japan trip. I had brought a pair of hightops. What a mistake! As I visited temples with my host, I was so embarrassed to hold her up while I unlaced my shoes. Not the best shoes for Japan! Temples, museums, restaurants, homes, and many locations require you to take off your shoes. I should have selected a better pair of backpacking shoes.

Slip-ons are the best choice for a stress-free experience traveling or living in Japan.


Tree Loungers


  • Lightweight

  • Sustainable

  • Machine Washable

  • No Breaking-in Period

Top Pick


Mesh Slip on Walking Shoe


  • Sturdy Construction

  • Comfortable

  • Easy On

  • Good Value

Best Value


Soft 7 Slip on Sneaker


  • Fine Appearance

  • Leather Exterior

  • Comfortable

  • Quality Construction

Best Looks

What Kind of Shoes Do You Need for a Japan Trip?

  • Easy on/off because you will need to take your shoes off more often in Japan.
  • Minimal design to accommodate a variety of formalities from a casual park stroll to a bit of a nicer restaurant.
  • Neutral color to coordinate well with any outfit and to not draw too much attention out in the world.
  • Comfortable and sturdy quality for walking longer distances that you probably do at home.

Of course, if you will be visiting a snowy region during winter, this isn’t the article for you. But if you are visiting Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, the inaka, or anywhere in Japan without snow, read on.

Why Not Vessis?

Vessis have earned some hype over the past few years for their amazing waterproof sneakers that seem too good to be true. Unfortunately it turned out they were… well… too good to be true. Some reviewers found that the shoes don’t breathe, causing sweaty feet and smelly shoes. And if they get too wet, they take ages to dry. That’s not great if you get caught in a rain storm and need to rely on the same shoes the next day.

Read more → The Atlas Heart Vessi Shoes Review

#3: ECCO Soft 7 Slip on Sneaker

The ECCO Soft 7 Slip on sneaker is the most attractive of the lot, featuring a slightly elevated sole profile and soft leather outer. This shoe received great ratings for quality of construction. ECCO also offers protective coating products that will make the shoe more water resistant in case of rain.

ECCO Men’s Soft 7 Slip on 2.0 Sneaker in “Marine”
ECCO Women’s Soft 7 Casual Slip on Sneaker in “Marine”

#2: Sketchers Go Slip on Walking Shoe

Sketchers Air Mesh Slip on walking shoes look like a cheaper version of the Allbirds Loungers. The step has a bit of a cushioned feel, and many people found that these shoes were appropriate for lots of walking right out of the box.

Skechers Women’s Go Walk Joy in “Navy”
Skechers Men’s Go Max-Athletic Air Mesh Slip on Walking Shoe Sneaker in “Equalizer Navy”

#1: Allbirds Tree Loungers

I’ve personally been wearing Allbirds shoes almost exclusively since 2018, so I feel confident recommending them as my favorite shoe source and my recommendation for best shoes for japan trips. Click my link for a free pair of socks with your purchase of shoes or apparel (excluding underwear or socks). Offer will automatically be applied at checkout if socks are added to your cart, just for our community. Thank you, Allbirds!

allbirds slip-on shoes for travel

Allbirds’ Tree Loungers are my favorite shoes for backpacking, weekend trips, and to be honest… every day here in Japan.

I’ve owned a few styles of Allbirds shoes and my favorite are the eucalyptus fiber styles (tree loungers, tree pipers, tree breezers, etc). They are breathable and I prefer the aesthetic.

These Shoes Are Light as a Feather

I like to keep my luggage to a minimum when traveling but my Red Wing hiking boots are just too heavy to bring when I’m trying to cover a lot of territory, let alone an international trip. it is important to keep your footwear as light as possible. Allbirds shoes are known for their lightweight design, which is achieved by using natural materials such as merino wool, eucalyptus tree fiber, and sugarcane. These materials are not only light but also breathable, making them ideal for hot and humid environments.

In addition, Allbirds shoes are designed to be minimal, with no unnecessary bulk, which further reduces their weight and enhances their performance. The tree loungers (of eucalyptus fiber) are my favorite travel shoe – easy to slip on and off at airport checkpoints, and they flatten and pack well inside luggage. Japanese houses and sometimes museums feature a genkan area where you will be expected to switch from shoes to slippers. Having a pair of shoes that is easy to slip on and off is imperative for low-stress travel in Japan.

Washable Backpacking Shoes

I think we’ve all become a bit more conscious about what kind of icky things we trek home: dirt and germs. Most Allbirds shoes are washable, which means you can easily clean them using a washing machine or by hand. Just slip out the soles and pop them in a net laundry bag, then air dry. This feature is particularly useful for extending the life of the product, keeping them looking good for longer.

The Most Comfortable Shoe

Traveling can be a physically demanding activity, so it is crucial to wear shoes that provide adequate support and cushioning. Allbirds shoes are designed with comfort in mind, featuring a soft interior that hugs your feet and a supportive sole that absorbs shock and provides traction.

Best Shoes for English Teachers in Japan

When I worked as an English teacher in Japan, I also used Allbirds as my indoor shoes. I had two pairs – I preferred eucalyptus fiber slip-ons for the hot season and wool sneakers for the cold season. The minimal design in a neutral color worked great for both everyday and ceremonies, paired with a black suit.

Best shoes for working, teaching English in Japan

Are There Any Downsides to Allbirds?

Yes, Allbirds has received some criticism. Due to their more eco-oriented material choices, Allbirds tend to wear out a bit quicker, looking a bit slumpy. They are also on the expensive side.

Read More → People Complain that Allbirds Fall Apart [Insider]

And when it comes to shoes for Japan, another thing Allbirds might fall short on is being waterproof. You won’t make it out of a puddle dry in a pair of tree loungers!

That taken into consideration, I haven’t found another kind of slip-on shoe that combines comfort with sustainability the same way. If you have another suggestion, please drop a comment!

Sustainable Shoes

Finally, Allbirds shoes are an excellent choice for backpackers and travelers who are mindful of their environmental impact. Allbirds is a company that prioritizes sustainability, using eco-friendly materials and processes to make their products. For example, the merino wool used in Allbirds shoes is sourced from farmers who practice regenerative agriculture, which reduces the carbon footprint of the product. You can read more about their sustainable programs here:

☀️ Energy:
🌸 Agriculture:
🦀 Materials:
👟 Carbon Footprint:
🌳 Carbon Offsets:
🐑 Animal Welfare / Labor Practices:

In conclusion, Allbirds shoes are my ultimate recommendation as the best shoes for living and visiting Japan because they are lightweight, easy to slip on, washable, comfortable, minimal and sustainable. These features make them a practical and ethical choice for anyone who enjoys exploring the outdoors. Whether you are a seasoned traveler or a beginner, investing in a pair of Allbirds shoes can enhance your experience and help you step through Japan lightly.

Free Socks!
Click my link for a free pair of socks with your purchase of shoes or apparel (excluding underwear or socks). Offer will automatically be applied at checkout if socks are added to your cart, just for our community. Thank you, Allbirds!

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