Sneakers, the Seaside Cat

A Pair of Red Clogs

by Masako Matsuno
illustrated by Kazue Mizumura 

Originally published in 1960, A Pair of Red Clogs is the story of a young Japanese girl and her beautiful new red clogs. After the clogs crack in a game of the weather telling game, the girl is very sad. Can she think of a way to get a new pair of clogs?

This charming book is unique in that it is told in first-person, drawing the reading into the life and culture of Mako and her family. Although the cultures make be very different, young readers will easily make a personal connection based on the shared experiences and emotions of childhood.  And even though some of the illustrated scenes may seem unfamiliar at first, they will quickly recognize the parallels to their own lives and the daily routines of family life. After all, what is more universal than the happiness of a new pair of shoes?

In this Issue


A Pair of Red Clogs

A Pair of Red Clogs Craft - A Pair of Red Clogs - Masako Matsuno -

Obviously we had to make a pair of red clogs. Although we don't usually have activities that require a lot of adult-only involvement (instead favoring open-ended child-centered activities), this week is an exception with making a pair of clogs for imaginative decoration and play. Once the clogs are made, young readers are free to decorate as they choose, leaving lots of room for creativity. 

Bring the story to life by learning all about the weather telling game that Mako plays with her friends, and discover what each landing position foretells. Then try playing it with the geta (clogs) you make!


A Pair of Red Clogs

  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue gun
  • Polar fleece
  • Paper clip
  • 4 twist ties (optional)
  • Yarn
  • 6 pony beads
  1. Using one of your young readers shoes as a guide, draw a rectangle about the same length as the shoe and a bit wider. Ours measured about 9 by 5 inches. Cut out rectangle.
    A Pair of Red Clogs Craft - A Pair of Red Clogs - Masako Matsuno -
  2. Use a pencil to mark the three spots where you will add the the fleece thong. One will go between the toes like a flip flop and one more will go on each side of the foot. Use the pencil to poke a hole through each dot. 
    A Pair of Red Clogs Craft - A Pair of Red Clogs - Masako Matsuno -
  3. Repeat to make two more rectangles in the same manner, but on one of these, cut so that the corrugations run in the opposite direction. This will offer support when your young reader uses the clogs.Sandwich this piece between the other two rectangles. Hot glue the three pieces together.
  4. Cut a cardboard rectangle the same width as the top pieces and about 2 inches wide.
    A Pair of Red Clogs Craft - A Pair of Red Clogs - Masako Matsuno -
  5. Use this piece as a guide and cut 11 more in the same manner. Hot glue 6 of these pieces together. Repeat with the other six. 
  6. Hot glue these supports to the bottom of the large rectangle about two inches from each end, making sure to avoid the holes in the large rectangle. 
    A Pair of Red Clogs Craft - A Pair of Red Clogs - Masako Matsuno -
  7. Repeat to make a second clog.
  8. Now your young reader can paint their clogs as desired. Let dry.
  9. Cut 6 lengths of polar fleece, each about 14 inches long by 2 inches wide. Loosely braid 3 lengths each to make 2 straps. Secure with twist ties or lengths of yarn until tied off on the clogs. 
  10. Unfold a paper clip until it is straight, then bend in half to make a "needle".
  11. Loosely arrange one strap so that it forms a V to cover each hole.  Thread the needle with some yarn, then insert it, from the bottom, through a hole on one of the clogs, up and over the fleece strap, and back through the hole. Trim yarn, leaving several inches on each end. Thread one end through a pony bead and triple knot both ends of the yarn together. Repeat at the other two holes. 
    A Pair of Red Clogs Craft - A Pair of Red Clogs - Masako Matsuno -
  12. Trim any remaining yarn and excess fleece braid. Repeat on other clog. 

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Watch and Learn: Japan

Watch a young girl wear her geta clogs and learn more about this traditional Japanese footwear.

Join Big Bird in Japan as he learns basic Japanese vocabulary.

Or, watch the entire Big Bird in Japan special!



Daigaku Imo

Daigaku Imo Sweet Potatoes Recipe - A Pair of Red Clogs -

 We found this recipe on Tokyo Terrace, where it is described as a favorite autumn treat in Tokyo. Blogger Rachel says, "You can find daigaku imo (Japanese University Sweet Potatoes) at many of the autumn festivals that occur at various school campuses, as well as food stands around Tokyo but they are just as easy to make in the comfort of your own home."

We adapted the recipe a bit so that the potatoes are boiled instead of fried, but you can also try roasting them in the oven. Enjoy!

Daigaku Imo

Adapted from Tokyo Terrace's Daigaku Imo


  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3/4 teaspoon soy sauce
  • Sesame seeds, for sprinkling
  1. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil.
  2. Cut the sweet potato into bite-sized (about 3/4- to 1-inch) cubes. Add to boiling water and cook until tender but not mushy, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. In a small saucepan, stir together the sugar, sesame oil, honey, and soy sauce. Stir over low heat until sugar has dissolved. 
  4. When sweet potatoes are cooked, drain and return to the warm pan. Pour soy sauce mixture over sweet potatoes and stir until evenly coated. 
  5. Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds. 

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Did you and your young reader make a pair of red clogs? Did you enjoying trying Daigaku Imo and the weather-telling game? Let us know in the comments or on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram. Tag your Instagram photos with #booksofftheshelf so we can see what you have been up to!


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