Japanese Astronaut Shoes.

Shoe maker Asics Corp. has developed some special super-light shoes for Japanese astronaut Takao Doi, who will join a US space shuttle mission in 2007.

"In an environment of no gravity, human muscles become atrophied and astronauts need to train themselves on machines," said Takehiro Tagawa, who developed the far-out footwear.

The first samples, with a soft heel and flexible sole, weigh only 130 grams (4.6 ounces) each and incline slightly upward toward the toes.

"By having the slant, the shoes would stretch a wearer's calf muscles even in the no-gravity environment," Tagawa said.

They also include a gap dividing the big toe from the others, similar to traditional Japanese socks known as tabi which are often worn with sandals.

"The divider makes it easier to stand firm," he said.

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