All About Japan

A Revolutionary & Stylish Footwear Redesign

Design Fashion

Japan takes appearances very seriously. Even in the absence of an explicit dress code dictating high heels, in many professional settings there’s a tacit understanding that women should wear them, lest they appear too casual in the workplace. Many Japanese women are unwilling to go without the stylish silhouette produced by wearing high heels even when not in the office, and many trendy women’s fashions are specifically designed to pair well with heels.

Yasuyuki Yamada, a biomechatronics researcher at Tokyo’s Chuo University, has worked to come up with a design that keeps the extra height of a high heel but takes away some of the pain and stress on the tendons of the toes, foot and ankle. The resulting shoes, called YaCHAIKA, feature a spring-like heel made up of two curved planes which help to absorb some of the impact of each step.

There’s even a bit of history tied up in the design. Although “YaCHAIKA” sounds a lot like a Japanese phrase meaning “Let’s do this,” the name was actually chosen to honor Valentina Tereshkova, who in 1963 became the first woman in space. Tereshkova’s call sign was Chaika, meaning seagull , and her transmission from space of “Ya Chaika” (“This is seagull”) was a historical moment.

YaCHAIKA was recently nominated for the prestigious James Dyson Award for student design, and Yamada plans to exhibit an improved model at Tokyo Design Week at the end of October 2015. The designer is hoping for an enthusiastic response that can pave the way to mass-production of the shoes and retail sales, helping to literally put a spring in women’s steps and a smile on their faces.

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