Picture of Make your own Bleach Cosplay sandals (waraji)
For anyone who cosplays Bleach characters, one of the hardest things to find is the sandals that the shinigami (soul reapers in the dub) wear. The sandals are based off a traditional straw sandal from fuedal Japan known as waraji.

Traditional waraji sandals are made from woven straw. They are constructed on a loom and are a little smaller than the foot they're made for, ending just behind the toes. The toes hang out over the end of the sandal. Along the sides of the sandal are four small loops (two on each side) and four strips of woven rope come through the forward end and back end of the sandal. These are threaded through the loops and wrap around the foot and ankle to tie them in place.

When you do a search on ebay or different "cosplay stores" for Bleach cosplay items, you'll usually find these sandals sold along with a set of tabi socks. These sandals are more traditional but have several problems that don't make them ideal for cosplaying.

First of all, they don't look very accurate to the manga or show, and if you're like me, accuracy counts on a costume as "simple" as this.  I don't mean simple to construct, but the fewer details a costume has, the more crucial it is to get those details right.

These sandals also don't hold together well. I had ordered a set, and put them on a few days before the con while making the costume to get used to the way they felt. After wearing the sandals for a little over two hours on concrete, linoleum, and carpet, they completely fell apart. Other cosplay friends that have ordered these sandals have had the same problem and you see this happen at cons all the time - I've never seen anyone wear the same set for more than one day without them being severely degraded, fraying, or falling apart.

Shinigami sandals as shown in the manga and anime differ from traditional sandals in two ways. Shinigami sandals extend all the way to the end of the toes much like a normal sandal. The sandal itself also extends past the heel to wrap up around it and end at the Achilles tendon. It's a very subtle effect but one of the most distinctive characteristics of the outfit. I've never seen sandals online that you can buy like this, so I decided to make my own.

These sandals take a few hours to make. The first pair costs about $15, while subsequent pairs can be made for a third of the cost. You can size them to your specific foot, which is also comfortable. Best of all, you can wear these sandals to a con for three days of walking for 10 hours each on concrete and asphalt before they break down.

All in all, definitely worth the time invested and always turn heads. I've never worn these without people rushing to comment on them and asking how they can make their own!
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GraphixS67 months ago

Very nice work. Out of curiosity, do you think this would work with something thinner such as paracord? Would I need to add more "vertical" strands?

Seconded. I actually had to take my sandal off the loom, modify the loom with extra nails and start over. I took Jester at their word and made "everything tight". Then again, the feet I'm making them for are quite long so perhaps there was simply too much space between the nails.

Something else that helps with the weaving especially when the space starts getting tight is to wrap a wee bit of scotch tape around the end of the twine you're working with to have a kind of flexible "needle" you can feed between the ropes more easily.

I can't help but notice that my waraji seem to be a bit thinner than the ones pictured. What width of jute twine was used for the weaving?
EurobeatJester (author)  EthanKincaid1 year ago

I used a version from Michaels which is about twice as thick as the normal one you find at Home Depot.
Having made sandals with both, I find the thinner twine is superior. There's more of it so the sandal holds together firmer. The extra "cushioning" from the thicker twine was gone after a few hours, and the extra space that results once it starts to break down can cause the sandal to start to loosen up.

Thanks for the info! I just bought some thicker twine. Maybe I will continue using the thin stuff ...

paleotool2 years ago
These are absolutely awesome! Thanks. Is the loom you use a traditional method or did you just come up with it???
EurobeatJester (author)  paleotool1 year ago

Modified a traditional loom pattern to add room for the heel :)

lycoris34 years ago
ever thought of adding a layer of hot glue to make them last longer? got it from this ible: I really like yours, and plan to make some of my own. wonder if yarn will do? Maybe I can combine yours and that guys....
ive been toying with the idea of thinning down tool handle dip with either paint thinner or acetone (not sure on tht one) so it soaks into the fibers and creates a rubberized sole. i have no idea what would happen in reality since ive never thinned out tool dip. but my hypothesis is tht it will, as i said, soak into the fibers and, with further applications, create a more durable rubber sole then what the fibers would be by themselves. it might make them last another week or two. then again....the solvent may break down the structure of the dip and weaken its abrasion resistance. ....just an idea for ya.
EurobeatJester (author)  acoleman33 years ago
/Sounds like it could work, if not, just make another pair :P I never needed mine to last longer than a few days. I'm not sure if you're able to thin down tool handle dip. Perhaps Shoe Goop would be a better solution? Coat the bottom of the sandal in it to make it more durable perhaps.
I've found an interesting product called "liquid electrical tape" which is used to coat and seal open wires, but it makes a great paint-on rubber sole for the bottom of the waraji. Plus, it holds the weaving in the bottom together and makes it stronger.
This sounds good as well, and again hopefully I can get to mine when my budget allows. :P Perhaps I will do this one first, still undecided. Will post when I am successful!
ive been rather skeptical on whether or not you can thin down tool dip.....but i was going to run experiments on it and see. although with you mentioning shoe goop.....that may be a more viable solution. thanks for saving me the trouble and wasted time.
thanks for the tip. I may try it when my budget will allow. :P Thanks again!
Amuune1 year ago
These are absolutely amazing and what I was looking for. A friend of mine sent me a link after she saw the makeshift version I was doing. I am going to a cosplay convention in June as one of the Bleach characters, so this is absolutely perfect. Thankyou so much for posting this. Your details and pictures help out more than you can imagine. I am a visual person, so seeing actual pictures helps out far more than if this were just a simple typed description. Thanks again, my costume will now be far more authentic! I love it!
jacicham2 years ago
These are SO awesome!!!!! Thank you for sharing! I am about to attempt making a pair of shoes using old jeans and was looking for a way to make a sole, which I will be trying this out! But I will also be trying to make a pair of these sandals after! And I was lucky enough to find green jute at Home Depot! Yay! I am so excited!
vmitchell32 years ago
Would this work to make flipflops like this? just disregard the heel and the extra loops?
Lemonbrew3 years ago
Looks like a very thorough guide, and it's got good pictures too! I don't cosplay but I plan on making a pair of these for next summer for everyday use.

I also have a request to the author. Could you also put this article to wikiHow? Instructables requires a Pro account to download a PDF for easier viewing and printing. wikiHow at least has free print version of pages (and its quite simple to make a PDF out of the print page). wikiHow also uses the same license in all its articles as you have in this one.

Thanks for this great article. I'll report on my progress when I get a chance to make a pair of these.
robinjade33 years ago
I am definitely want to make these! Since they were worn for several days on rough surfaces, how comfortable were they? As in how did your feet feel at the end of the day?
I am a macramer and a jewelry maker and I have found that a good place to normally find jute twine and rope is at a crafting chain such as at Hobby Lobby and you can sometimes find it at the hardware sections at Walmart or Dollar Store. Thank you for this 'ible, I have always liked the idea of these sandals and have always wanted a pair for just casual wear and now I can ^^
Jimichan3 years ago
I once bought some waraji from a Nihonjin at a flea market in downtown Sao Paolo Brazil. I LOVED them! Very comfortable. Always wanted another pair, but never found any, even though I go to Japan every summer.
I will definitely be making my own now.
EtherPants4 years ago
Thank you so much for this. I've had the traditional waraji pattern for awhile now but wasn't sure how to approach the modifications the author gave to shinigami sandals.

The only jute twine I could find is kinda thready/frayed on the surface. Is this typical or should I keep looking?
EurobeatJester (author)  EtherPants4 years ago
The jute twine is always a little fuzzy since its made from natural fibers instead of synthetic like nylon. This is normal, and makes it a little softer.

I saw the patterns but didn't use them. This is about the fifth or sixth version of the sandal I made. The old ones were just larger versions of the standard waraji sandal, so the toe portion of it only came up to the ball of the foot with the sandal thongs coming out through the front. This caused some blisters when walking on hot concrete and asphalt since the toes hang out over the end of the sandal. This version makes them much larger as you can see in the photos.

Let me know how they turn out!

The only other thing I can recommend to make it easier on your feet is to buy some good quality gel inserts and put them in your sock when you wear the sandal.
Did my first attempt and I must have picked a twine that's a lot thinner than what you used since it feels kinda flimsy and looks like a much thinner than yours.

Making my second attempt with some thick hemp I had lying around to see how it turns out as an alternative.
EurobeatJester (author)  EtherPants4 years ago
I used the thicker stuff from the craft store for this sandal, but it wasn't quite as good as the thinner stuff since you can pack more in. I really bought the thicker stuff for the sandal thongs and it's what I had on hand. Both work equally well, as long as you pack as much in as is humanly possible.

Don't worry, the first one I made fell apart as soon as I tried to tie it. Keep at it!

Got pics?
The first pair I made months ago turned out okay but we ran into issues with the guy having a high arch and rain soaked shoes.

The next two turned out much better, especially after finding jute twine that wqas thick enough. We have a small Bleach group heading to Otakon so I'll finally have pictures soon. Any chance you might be there? It would be nice to meet up with some more Bleach cosplayers who know what they're doing.
acoleman33 years ago let you all know? you can get a 3K foot spool of 5 ply (1/4in) jute twine from here.
probably enough to last your lifetime and even a friend or two. god knows *im* getting it from here. especially if im gonna be making a new pair every week.
DONT GET IT FROM HERE! i found out they want $48 in shipping....FK THT! at amzon you can get 260 feet for $5.05 and $4..67 shipping. look up jute rope and its item #2 in the list. WAY better price and its still a lot of rope for wht you need. i think its only like 12 ft per sandal.
Jubeidude4 years ago
I have always wanted a pair of Waraji. I've always been obsessed with samurai and japanese culture, so much that in school I gained degrees in History, Asian Studies and Japanese; and soon will begin work on my Master's degree in Military History (Samurai).

BUT, the point is
I have a size 16 foot, and well, Japan doesn't have waraji that big, so I am THRILLED to be able to have made size 16 waraji for myself.

Thank you.
EurobeatJester (author)  Jubeidude3 years ago
If you want more traditional waraji, just end the sandal where your heel ends and only add the four side loops.

Glad you like it!
actually....historical examples of waraji do have 6 loops. this was to prevent loose debris from entering between the sandal and your tabi. it was especially important for samurai and other retainers either in their daily routine, crossing creeks and streams and, *especially* when on the march or more critically....the battlefield. they just usually didnt cover the achillies tendon as teh bleach waraji do.
EurobeatJester (author)  acoleman33 years ago
I never found any examples of waraji that had 6 loops. All the ones I had seen had four loops on the sides and thongs on the front and the back of the sandal giving you four ropes to pull up around your ankle. While I'm not doubting you at all, I wasn't able to find any examples that you describe in my research on how to make waraji in general
ok.....ill find it cus i googled waraji for almost two hrs today looking for different methods of weaving them and this is what i found and for these exact reasons. it may take me 30 min to an hr, but i will find it.
heres one....

"It is better to have 6 tabs on your sandals than 5 then you will not catch pebbles between your sandals and feet when crossing rivers, or marching on rough roads."

here you see pics of vintage waraji with 6 tabs

here is 6 tabs

5 tabs

6 tabs

i think that should just about do it. hope this helps
Which is better to use-- jute twine or hemp twine?
Should the weave be tight or loose?
if you use a tight weave, it will protect your feet better and you wont feel rocks or pebble type objects if you step on them as much.
EurobeatJester (author)  crazywuzhere3 years ago
I've used Jute - none of the stores have hemp around here...
This is so cool! And so cheap, too, especially since a portion of the estimated price went to the loom, right?
One question, though; is there any way to make them so they'll last longer than a few days? That seems kind of short for a pair of shoes, especially, ones made like this.
EurobeatJester (author)  KwartzKitten3 years ago
Actual waraji were only made to last a week or two at most since you could make another pair cheaply and easily from readily available materials - they weren't needed to last a long time. Japanese farmers and low level infantry prior to the modernization and military buildup to WW2 would carry at least one spare pair tied to their belt.

Also, keep in mind that these sandals are being used on many hard, rough surfaces like asphalt and concrete, and often for several full days in a row. My sandals lasted the whole con but not because they fell apart - because the con only lasted four days! I have no idea how long a normal pair would last. Mine still worked fine, they only had a minimum amount of fraying.
khenry-23 years ago
can someone tell me how to start the weaving? i always end up pulling too hard and the shoe doesnt end up how it should (the rope is pulled towards the middle). what am i doing wrong???
EurobeatJester (author)  khenry-23 years ago
Wind the main rope going around the nails tighter - it should be very taut! How tight you make the weaving in the sandals is actually less important than how compact you make it.
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