I don't think they are a Japanese version -- I think that's a myth. I think they are probably sold in Japan and in select stores in the States. I've seen them at Scoop and Tani and NYC, and the latter is an unspectacular shoe store on the Upper West Side, so I don't know how exclusive they are. I tried them on and almost bought the suede ones but couldn't convince myself that the suede would work without socks so I passed. Interesting to hear that they are "not comfortable" because I'd been questioning passing on the shoes. Ugh, I hate saying this phrase, but "Quoddy, ftw."