03 May 2021

#52 writing cards: Prompts from Shaun Levin's Writing Maps - no. 17

Image from the #52 Writing Cards Project. For all of their maps, click here!


Shoes for exercise
-- I've got my hiking boots that I purchased in the USA right before coming to Japan. I knew that I wanted to get back into nature, and hiking is my primary form of exercise because I love it so much, and it's always beautiful here wherever I go. 

Hiking isn't easy for me. I'm obese and really out of shape, and I have bad knees, so I have to go very slowly when I go out. My proudest hiking moment in Japan, though, was when I went to Yakushima to Shiratani Unsuikyo in 2018 and hiked for about six hours straight. And there is some legitimate mountaineering that happens on some of that trail, too, and I hadn't done any mountaineering since 2004 when I lived in Wales. 

I was terrified of strenuous hiking after so many years, especially because I definitely was not the shape I was from my 20s, and I remember packing my backpack like I was going to die. Lots of water, lots of emergency rations, a compass, an emergency whistle, etc. It was a serious endeavor and I made it! It was also my first significant solo trip in Japan, too, so there were a lot of things that had me nervous. But Yakushima may be one of the most beautiful places on the planet, with its primordial, lush green forests, and the effort was definitely worth it. 

Shoes for work
 -- I own four different sets of work shoes, but they are all in the lockers at my different schools (in Japan you have a separate set of shoes for indoors) so I don't have any pictures of them. So, these are my work shoes for going to work. 

Because I have to be somewhat dressed up for my classes, these are the shoes I wear everyday to and from work, and I never wear them for any other purpose. This is my third pair of "going to work" shoes. Something about the landscape here, and tons of concrete and gravel, wears my shoes down so easily. My last pair of shoes were completely destroyed. I can't find what I did with that photo of them, but I posted it on Facebook and people were like, "Those shoes are from The Grapes of Wrath." They were literally in tatters. 

We'll see how long these shoes last me!

Shoes for glamour
 --  I don't wear very fancy shoes anymore. I did when I was younger. But I did make sure to own a pair of fancier shoes while I'm here in Japan, just in case I needed to. 

I ended up wearing them for cosplay when I dressed up as a female Gankutsuou but haven't had any other reason to wear them for a special occasion. You can't really tell from the photo, but what makes them fancy is the fact that they are velvet and at the heel is some knockoff gold metal running through it. I got them from Modcloth, my favorite place to shop while I'm in Japan (because they have plus sizes and ship to Japan!). 

Shoes for leisure
-- This pair of sneakers is my official go-to in Japan. I've worn them all over the place here. I did buy them in Japan instead of bringing them over from America. I can't remember what happened to my American sneakers but these were purchased as a replacement pretty early on into my time here. 

They were originally my indoor shoes at my special support school, where we did a lot of indoor athletic activity with the children, but when they removed that school from my roster, I decided to make the shoes my regular everyday pair. This is how I found out I'm a size 26.5 in Japan! I can never find women's shoes here, so when I'm not ordering them from overseas, I'm buying men's shoes instead. 

Before we reached a Level 5 emergency here in Kumamoto prefecture (the highest level on the emergency scale for coronavirus), which we are currently under during our Golden Week holiday, I managed to travel to Itoshima in Fukuoka prefecture right before the travel restrictions to other prefectures were handed down. I still have sand in my shoes from that trip. 


As soon as this prompt came up, I couldn't help but think about my ballet shoes. I started ballet when I was six or seven years old and stopped at age fourteen when my ballet instructor retired. Then I took a long break from dance, and briefly enrolled in ballet classes again at Ballet Met in my twenties, then stopped again (I wish I hadn't ever stopped 😔). 

Photo by Merve Sehirli Nasir on Unsplash
In ballet, women wear two types of shoes. The first pair of ballet shoes are usually canvas or leather and they are form fitting on the feet. Then, perhaps the more famous pair of shoes are the pointe shoes, allowing ballerinas to dance on the tips of their toes. Made out of satin, hard glue, leather, and other materials, these shoes are not comfortable. I first danced en pointe when I was twelve and continued until I stopped at fourteen. I managed to dance in a recital in them in addition to using them in class. 

I have saved my pointe shoes, which are currently in America, and one of the key things about them is that they are filled with my blood. As in, my blood has stained the box inside the shoe, and it's not like a dab here or there. The blood is in noticeable patches. 

The toe pads I used as cushions for the pointe shoes were made out of cotton and not very thick, so they didn't offer much protection. And because my shoes hurt my feet, I have some souvenirs from my time en pointe. 

I have these very faint, circular scars near the knuckles of my toes where the skin was rubbed raw off of them. My pinkie toes are also completely turned on their sides from going up on my feet all the time. There are still callouses from my time dancing, and I have not danced for quite some time. 

I often wonder about the state of my feet, what would've happened to them if I ended up pursuing ballet professionally. I kind of feel like they would've become quite hideous, but that's the price you pay when you dance on the tips of your toes. 

Cue smarmy person saying, "I suffer for my art." 
  • 。・:*:・゚★,。・:*:・゚☆   。・:*:・゚★,。・:*:・゚☆ 

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