TOKYO -- As an endurance runner who sometimes covers long distances over several days, Yoshihiro Machida was used to getting blisters and damp, sweaty feet after a long run. If he crossed a stream or ran into a puddle, his feet would get wet and cold.
But about 10 years ago, Machida, 58, traded in his usual socks for a five-toed pair made of washi, or Japanese paper. "At first, the socks felt stiff and a little uncomfortable. It felt like walking on sand," Machida recalls. But, he adds, "I didn't get blisters, even after running for days."