I suppose every culture has something to say about body parts. God knows we all talk about appearance endlessly. Some, however, should go unnamed. Feet, on the other hand, are often discussed in different countries where they require extra attention and shoeing. People may be trained in their care. In Japan, they are as important in terms of hygiene as anywhere else. Pedicures are popular. Furthermore, the size of one’s feet is a subject of distain if they happened to be large.

Footwear fashions are as important in Japan as in France or Italy. The US goes either way: sneakers and old tennis or stilettos and T-straps. It says a lot about you what surrounds your feet and remember that size matters. American women, for example, are known to sport size nine or ten—or larger. This would probably not even be available in a Tokyo department store. Men have it a little better, but not much.

So take a look at your precious tootsies and see if they are diminutive or lengthy. Are they pretty or sad? Do you have bunions or toe fungus? Are your feet presentable in public? If you are buying new shoes, you better beware of baring the evidence outright. People are known to stare at misshapen or deformed appendages. They don’t like to see corns and blisters. It says you are not high class and may be working in old moldy shoes. Your socks may be gracing the trash as I write. It might mean bad genes or worse.

The mention of someone having a case of toenail fungus brings to mind a perplexing problem. You can be clean as a whistle, bathe often, smell divine, and still get it. It comes from the gym shower or dirty socks. Some people don’t dry their feet enough causing the growth of a blackish yellow nuisance. It’s hard to get rid of and looks much worse than it is.

If this is your plague, try laser treatments, prescriptions pills, and various tonics and potions you can buy online. There are lots of web sites like this one offering reviews and information to help you overcome this ailment. Whatever you do, don’t show it! If you are at the beach or in a public shower, you will be noticed for sure. People do look at others’ feet. They assess the size, shape, and skin condition. They look at people in manicure salons, comparing their own. You think they’re just liking your polish color! They notice telltale hairs sprouting in odd places. It makes them shudder at the mere sight.

Take a tip from me, if you live in Japan or not, your feet are the hallmark of your being—not your eyes. They hold you up and carry you forward through life. They age with you, suffer with you, but also experience joy with you. They are, in a sense, sacred. While long toes are aristocratic like noses in the west, protruding feet below your skirt or pants are not. The Japanese did not bind feet in medieval times, but perhaps there was something right about that old Chinese custom.