In Wenchang County of Hainan Province in southern China, a famous hometown of overseas Chinese, there has always been a custom to wear wooden sandals.
Although the wooden sandals are in the danger of being gradually eliminated, to be replaced by cloth shoes, leather shoes or plastic shoes, yet you can still see many people wearing wooden sandals, whether in countryside or town.
Muji is a general term for shoes of wooden treads. Legend has it that in the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476BC), Jie Zitui, a nobleman of the Jin Kingdom, once got exiled together with the Jin King, Jin Wengong, to another kingdom. After his return, Jie Zitui lived in seclusion in Mianshang Mountain (now southeast of Gongxiu County, Shangxi Province), and declined Jin Wengong's repeated invitations. Later, the military people ordered by the king to summon Jie Zitui attempted to force him out by burning the mountain where he lived, but Jie Zitui died holding a tree. Jin Wengong lamented Jie Zitui so much that he used wood of this tree to make Muji, and whenever he put them on, he would think of Jie Zitui.
Wenchang Muji has a centuries-old history. At first, its shape was very similar to a tiny wooden stool and the upper was added onto it. Since only a small area of Wenchang Muji contacts the ground, they are suitable for walking on muddy road or in rainy days, and it is not easy for people to slip down.
Afterwards, Muji carved out of a whole piece of wood appeared. Such Mujis have more advantages.
There are many sorts of Wenchang Muji: Kulian (chinaberry) Muji, Kuchang Muji, Jiangfu muji, etc. Especially, the Muji made of chinaberry and painted with beautiful pictures is so wonderful to wear, as chinaberry is both light and durable.
Along with Sino-foreign cultural exchanges, Muji has spread to Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia, and even today it is still popular there.