Japanese girls walking – Uchimata

Not all of them, but many Japanese girls usually walk pointing their feet inwards. Sometimes in the most extreme cases, like in these videos, this fact surprises many foreign tourists that visit Japan:

“Uchimata” is the name of one of the most used techniques in judo and it is also a word used for the position of the legs in which the tip of the feet point inwards.

The theories about why Japanese women walk like that are very varied: some blame the Japanese diet for being too low on calcium and proteins, some theorize that it is something genetic, that the skeleton of the Japanese woman has a tendency to have short legs and the hips constitution is different, thus the uchimata position is something natural for them. Other theory says that when you walk wearing a kimono it is much easier to advance adopting an uchimata position and, even though kimonos are not used daily anymore, the way of walking has stuck in the subconscious of the Japanese woman; others say that according to Japanese beauty standards women are more attractive if when they sit down they adopt an uchimata position.

The most accepted theory is that it is a deformation consequence of the position that Japanese women use when sitting on the floor; men also sit down on the floor from very early ages but they usually adopt different position. That is to say, the traditional way of living on the floor is possibly one of the causes of the uchimata.

Tokyo&Legs - 内股
Photo from my new book Momentos

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9 Comments
  • Morten

    June 15, 2010 at 7:49 am

    Very interesting article. I just assumed it was some kind of trend since you often see it in anime.

  • Maria

    June 15, 2010 at 9:32 am

    Yeah, at first I thought it was just their idea of a cute way of walking or something.

  • R

    June 15, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    You’r right. I agree, very interesting article and informative.

    Now I know its called Uchimata position LOL

  • Brad F.

    June 15, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Cool article. I actually hadn’t noticed this before, but I’m just starting to take a bigger interest in the details of Japan.

    The theory that makes the most sense to me is the thing with how they sit affecting how they walk over time.

  • Gonazar

    June 15, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    I had this problem when i was growing up and would cause me to trip myself often. It’s actually a result of the sitting posture on the floor. A doctor told me that it was because of when you sit on your feet pointing inwards it compresses your joints and over time will make it permanent. The solution is to sit cross-legged which does the opposite, forces the feet to point outwards. After i started doing that, i had no problems.

    But i guess this is really a guy/girl thing, cause not that many girls would sit in that position. Is it less likely in japan because more girls wear skirts there? Seems mandatory for all school girls.

  • Geckomayhem

    June 15, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    I’ve never noticed that in any anime I’ve ever seen, and this is definitely the first time I’ve seen people do it. I guess if you are in a town or a city you are more likely to see girls walk like that, but out here, in the middle of nowhere, I’ve never noticed it. My wife definitely doesn’t walk like that!

  • rysicin

    June 16, 2010 at 3:27 am

    When I was in Japan with my parents it was my mother who made me realize how weird do these girls walk and stand. I would probably never see that, but after she mentioned it, I came to notice how ever-present it is. It really made me curious as to why they walk in such a manner.
    Thank you for your article.

  • paul

    June 17, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    i used to walk like that as a kid as well (i’m a dude) but my father kept nagging me about it so eventually i started walking with my feet pointed forward

  • AJ

    June 24, 2010 at 10:10 am

    I always thought it was just Japanese girls trying to be “cute”.
    Then I found out it was an actual medical condition and I felt like an ass for making fun of them all the time.