The Secret of Japanese Girls´ Bowlegs

October 29, 2011 Juju Kurihara Beauty, Culture, Lifestyle Tags: 21 Comments

The other day, a friend took out a little piece of paper out of his bag and asked me what it was.

It was this, secret ring 1secret ring

Ashi-yubi Shiikuretto Ringu (Toe secret ring).

As far as I could see was they are rings you can put on your big toes and somehow it works to lose weight.

So I´ve researched it.


By wearing these ring, it helps you to keep the weight in the centre of the body. Because if you have bowlegs or your pelvis is distorted, your balance is spread outside.

secret ring 2

Just wearing these, just fix the posture, not only you can have beautiful straight legs but also you can lose weight. It sounds too simple but I think it´s quite logic.


There are many pages and videos talking about Japanese girls´ walking. Someone even has left a comment saying "They walk like as if they are holding a wee". Unfortunately, it´s true. I cannot say that they walk elegantly.



Here are come example of how Japanese girls walk. Some I think it´s extreme but most of them walk like this.





O legsApparently 90% of Japanese women are bow-legged. My father trained me how to walk. He would walk right behind me and check how I walked. If my toes going to inside, he would groan at me. If my knees were bent as I walked, he would do the same. I was only 11 or 12 and it was so annoying walking with my Dad, in line instead of walking side by side like an ideal father and a daughter. But hey, now I walk quite manly, so it might be OK.


So how this odd way of walking started?

Japanese women´s bowlegs has been acknowledged as “womanly”. a Japanese folklorist, Kunio Yanagida (柳田邦男) had written in his book published in 1924 that  bowlegs were “known as beautiful woman´s attraction” .  He used the word “kyoutai (嬌態)” means sensual atittude towards men. That is to say, bowlegs was the way of expressing of femininity. 


Below there are two illustrations of Hisara Tanaka (田中比左良) who was one of the popular cartoonist before the war in Japan. He had drawn many women in that period.

hisara 2



tensokuWhat you can see from these two illustration is, while normal women in kimono are drawn with bandy-legs, Gensha´s feet are drawn exaggeratedly bow-legged. To demonstrate femininity, traditionally women have been forced to keep unpractical pose and movement. China´s  foot binding was the typical example.

In this sense, bow legs represent Japanese culture and therefore, we can say that the body is also a part of the culture. (reference:


But something I don´t understand. This unpopular way of walking of Japanese girls eventually causes bowlegs which no one likes to have. There are many exercises and treatment goods like "Secret Ring" to fix it. Also this way of walking deformed the pelvis bone and as a consequence, the muscle and the body fat grows un-wanted way.



Maybe it comes from our lifestyle. Japanese kids often sit like this. This way of sitting is called "Onnanoko-zuwari (女の子座り/ girls way of sitting)". I´ve heard that this way, the pelvis opens and causes of bowlegs.



Other possibility is seiza (正座/ sitting on the heels). This is a very traditional way of sitting in Japan. As my family didn´t like me sitting like this, only the occasion I did was at school as a punishment. Sometimes when we forgot to do homework or to bring a textbook, the teachers made us sit seiza at the back of the classroom on the floor during the class. After 5 minutes, my legs go numb, then by the time the class finished, I couldn´t even feel my feet. I either fell over or simply couldn´t stand up suffering from pins and needles…

I have to protest that seiza maybe a part of beautiful tradition but nothing is good about it. It´s painful and deforms girls´ legs.

To be beautiful isn´t so easy, eh.



More Japanese behaviour

More Japanese costum

Herbivorous boys

The concept of kindness

Women agenda

How do you say my wife in Japanese

Japanese mums and obento

Iyashi-kei girl

Service overtime work

Japanese girls look all the same


  1. Angie Coers 2 years Reply

    I have a theory about Korean, Japanese, Chinese women have bowed legs. As part of their cultures, mothers carry their baby’s on their back, therefore the baby’s legs become deform. I’m Filipina and we don’t carry out baby’s like that, perhaps we let the baby’s rest on the hips. But we carry the baby’s normally. Filipinos are not known for bow legs, they are normally straight.

  2. Derrick Chen 2 years Reply

    Chinese American here. My parents fled the PRC and raised me in a civilized country. No one wants to be Chinese, not even Chinese people. Ethnic Chinese in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, etc., call themselves Taiwanese, Hong Konger, Thai, Singaporean, Malaysian, Indonesian, NOT CHINESE. LOL. Literally no one wants it. It’s the most hated country on earth. No one has looked up to China for the last 2000 years. It’s a terrible place. It’s not racist to tell the truth.

    • Juju Kurihara 2 years

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It must be difficult for you to have this feeling towards your own country. 

  3. Ebony 6 years Reply

    Cool article very interesting.
    I have also noticed a predominantly Lage head in Asian males while the women have a more uniform head to their body.
    Never understood why, just saying.
    But that’s another topic.

  4. Annie 6 years Reply

    the girl in the video isn’t bow-legged; she is knock-kneed and pigeon-toed.

  5. usukage 7 years Reply

    Though I have a lady Japanese colleague, I didn’t noticed about the Japanese Girls’ bow legs until I read this article.
    During our 2015 Christmas party, she and her daughter attended the party. It’s quite noticeable how they walk also they are wearing skirts but I find they walk gracefully. I guess they have bow legs too but not so much like in the video. I learned something new from this article.

  6. the the 7 years Reply

    Its genetics. In case you haven’t noticed we humans are not all clones. My wife is Korean and she sits the same way Japanese do. Koreans are not bowlegged as much as Japanese girls are. Personally I think its cute.

    And you can’t compare this to Chinese foot binding. Seriously. There are very good reasons why the Koreans, the Japanese, the Vietnamese, and everyone around China wants to NOT be Chinese. Its been this way for thousands of years. China is a thug culture and always has been. China means “center of the universe”. Yeah, they call themselves the “center of the universe” people.

    • the the wtf 7 years

      Oh my god, I felt sick reading your comment. You’re so incredibly racist to Chinese you disgust me. “thug culture”? oh please. If it wasn’t for you being able to hide behind your pathetic computer, bet you’d think twice about saying anything like that.

    • what what 7 years

      Not wanting to be Chinese? You must be trolling. Countries in the region literally copied Chinese culture for millennia. From architecture, art, writing, science, philosophy, literature and on… Go and learn about east asian history before you come here spewing nonsense. Yes, the recent century has been one of the worst in China – with famine, wars and internal turmoil devastating the country. But to diminish China’s role in shaping the region is laughable.

      Thug culture? What does that even mean? … If your civilization is the oldest and longest surviving one in the history of mankind and if for millennia you country ruled the region with no real competition whatsoever, it stands to reason that you regard your position as somewhat “special”. Which great civilization didn’t regard itself as the center of the universe. You must be bitter because your country probably never reached those heights and thus have to overcompensate with things like this.

      As for footbinding … that was a pretty disturbing trend.

    • 小琳 6 years

      Literally 中国 just means middle country…. Like…. Homeland…. It doesn’t mean “center of the universe”. Are you really that dense to insult and generalize a country that has a rich and diverse culture of over 200+ ethnicities, regional dialects, and unique traditions? There are many ways Chinese people call themselves and their country, and none of them are “center of the universe”. Learn some respect.

    • Nia 6 years

      sorry to interrupt
      小琳! as a Korean we learn that way too. The word 中国 literally means middle country and that the chinese named that way because they thought they were the center of the universe (Chinese used to call the countries around them the Siyi (Four Barbarians)) . So you both are right i guess.
      But i don’t really don’t get why ‘the the’ has to learn some respect, cus i think what he’s saying there is not really wrong.

    • Not a filthy being 4 years

      “Other countries don’t want to be Chinese” That is true? That is respectful? If anyone thinks that that is not a racist and disrespectful comment they must be out of their minds. It’s disgusting.

  7. Inna 7 years Reply

    well you seem very lucky out there . I love japanese with bowed legs , however some do not , the website above shows how to get rid of bowed legs and start a new life

  8. genoskill 8 years Reply

    Sometimes culture is retarded.

  9. susan 9 years Reply

    Where can I purchase the toe ring?

  10. budoka 9 years Reply

    I as a man personally find bow-legged women attractive.The woman walking in the shared video was a highly exaggerated case.

    • juju.kurihara 9 years

      Hello Budoka san

      Yes, the girl in the video is an extreme case although I have some friends like her. Normally you see more in elder generations.

  11. Cheryl Mason-Middleton (中町茶流子) 11 years Reply

    Being an American woman, even I sat seiza all of my life and even spent many hours sitting onnanokozuwari. We didn’t call sitting this way by the Japanese names, it was just “sitting on the floor.” My family had many Japanese elements without even knowing it. I didn’t notice this until I began to learn about Japan and found a kind of home in the culture.

    I think beauty is in the eye of the beholder and comfort is what you are used to doing. It has had an effect on my posture and on the way my legs are shaped, but it doesn’t bother me. I still enjoy sitting this way and feel sorry for my fellow aikido students who find it difficult to sit this way for even a minute of two. If I walk strangely, well, I wear long skirts anyway and nobody notices.

    Fun article. I enjoyed it very much.


    • juju.kurihara 11 years

      Sounds like your orientation to Japan has been built in your childhood. You are meant to like Japan, hahaha.

      Seiza as it´s written 正座, it was the “right way” of sitting when Japanese people lived in traditional Japanese houses, and the way of walking was developed for women who wore kimono. Still we keep that way of living in a way as a part of our life. But sure, nowadays women wear shorts or mini skirt and legs are more revealed, so bowlegs are quite noticeable. You know how important the apprearance canbe for Japanese?

      I think it´s great that you can do seiza. I can´t. I can´t even do onnanoko zuwari for a long time although I love sitting on the floor. I usually sit my legs crossed or stretch out but sitting on the floor is the most comfortable way of sitting for me than sitting on the sofa.

      I´m glad you like the article. Iromegane wo yorosiku!


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