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Mizuno Hitogami Review: Solid Choice Among Distance Racing Shoes

Mizuno HitogamiA few months ago I wrote a post in which I described why the Mizuno Sayonara did not work for me. I found that shoe to be overly stiff and firm in the heel, and it just did not work well with my stride. It was shame since the shoe otherwise felt great – roomy toebox, firm, respsonsive forefoot, etc.

My experience with the Sayonara scared me off of wanting to try the Mizuno Hitogami. However, I received enough feedback from fellow shoe geeks that the Hitogami was quite a bit different that I decided to accept a review pair when my buddy Seth over at Mizuno offered one up (disclosure: these shoes were provided free of charge by Mizuno).

Like the Sayonara, the Hitogami is probably best classified as a lightweight trainer/distance racer. Interestingly, in every way that the Sayonara failed for me, the Hitogami succeeds. And just about everything I liked about the Sayonara is present in the Hitogami. It’s like someone stripped all the bad from the Sayonara and made me a shoe much more suited to my stride.

Appearance

First things first, the Mizuno Hitogami is a cool looking shoe. The pattern on the upper is designed such that when the two shoes are placed next to one another they take on the appearance of a Kabuki mask. Pretty sweet!

2014-02-11 08.14.00

Now you most likely won’t see this when the shoes are on your feet (I might have them oriented wrong in the picture above, I don’t know…), but I like unique little details like this. On the negative side, the white upper looks great when new, but mud season here in NH has turned that white to a drab gray – at least it shows that the shoes have been put to good use!

2014-03-18 10.42.19

Upper Construction and Fit

The upper of the Hitogami is nice and simple, just what I like in a shoe. It’s a basic mesh design with welded overlays, nothing too fancy. Simple and functional really. I have not run sockless in them yet due to the cold weather up here, but I don’t feel any obvious sources of abrasion when putting them on a bare foot. I have had zero abrasion/chafing/blistering issues in these so far. There is a flexible heel counter (not obtrusive) and minimal arch support.

Like the Sayonara, the Hitogami has a reasonably roomy toebox. I’ve found the shoe to be very comfortable, no toe squeezing, and the upper is not restrictive of toe movement. Fit through the heel and midfoot is snug, providing a good lockdown. In terms of sizing I went with a US 10 and I have a full thumb’s width of space between my big toe and the tip of the shoe. I would not recommend sizing up in these.

Sole Construction and Ride

The sole is where the Hitogami really separates itself from the Sayonara. Whereas the Sayonara felt stiff, firm, and rigid, the Hitogami feels softish and much more flexible. Whereas the Sayonara felt clunky and uncomfortable on the road, every run so far in the Hitogami has been smooth as silk (I’ve put 30 miles on them in the past few weeks, long run of 7+). It’s amazing to me how different my reaction to the two shoes has been – the Hitogami disappears on my feet.

Mizuno Hitogami Sole

In terms of specs, the Hitogami weighs in at 8oz in men’s size 9, which is almost identical to the Sayonara. Sole stack height is also very similar at 23mm heel, 14mm forefoot. I have not found the 9mm drop to be a problem in the Hitogami, whereas in the Sayonara I think it contributed to my negative reaction. I think this is a perfect case where you need to consider drop in terms of more than just the numbers – I can handle a higher drop shoe if it has a softish heel, and the Hitogami meets this requirement (as do shoes like the adidas Adios Boost and New Balance 1400v2). The Sayonara does not.

Like almost all Mizuno shoes, the Hitogami has a plastic “wave plate” built into the sole. It does not bother me in the Hitogami as it seems to be pretty flexible. There is ample outsole coverage on the bottom, and the rubber should make for good sole durability.

Mizuno Hitogami Top

Conclusion

My experience with the Mizuno Hitogami so far has been very positive. I view this as a lightweight training shoe/distance racing shoe. It’s cushioned enough to handle a half-marathon to marathon, but for a 5K I’d want something stiffer and closer to the ground. As such, I’d rank it in the same category as the Saucony Kinvara, adidas Adios Boost, New Balance 1400v2, Brooks PureConnect 3, and maybe the Asics Gel Lyte33 (should have a v3 review in a few weeks). Among these a selling point is that it may have the widest toebox (except maybe compared to the Asics).

The Hitogami is reasonably priced at $100 MSRP (anything $100 or less is on the low end of the cost scale for shoes these days – I’m working on a comprehensive list). All in all, I highly recommended this shoe!

The Mizuno Hitogami is available for purchase at Running Warehouse, Amazon.com, and Zappos. Outside of the US the Hitogami can be purchased at Sportsshoes.com. Purchases made via these links help keep reviews like this flowing – your support is very much appreciated!

For other takes on the Hitogami, view reviews by John Schrup and Believe in the Run.

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.

Comments

  1. Keith Tyger says:

    Darn you Pete, you are gonna make me buy another pair of shoes! Can you write a permission slip that I can give my wife? I actually like the Sayonara’s (after about a 50 mile break in period). I did a half marathon in them this past weekend and my feet felt great. I have dome my previous 6 in Kinvara’s. They feel just as firm as the kinvara’s to me be definitely stiffer. I am a heavier runner(220) and they feel smoother to me than my Kinvara’s. I am excited by the added flexibility of the Hitogami’s. So many choices and I only have 1 pair of shoes ready to leave the rotation, my last pair of k3′s. Do I hold out for the Kinvara 5′s, go with the Hitogami’s or return to a pair of Pureflow’s since the 3rd model fixed the lacing. I currently have the Ride 6, Wave Sayonara and Altra Torrin in rotation with the k3′s. Of course I also have a pair of green A5′s for 5k’s!

  2. Great review, Peter. I run in Wave Riders and Sayanaras and have thought about trying the Hitogami, but have been wondering about the differences between Sayanara and Hitogami. Based upon your review, would it be fair to say that the two shoes serve a similar purpose, but what distinguishes them is that the Hitogami is softer/more flexible?

  3. Thanks for the interesting review Pete. On my scales, the Hitogami (size 10 US) come in at 220g whereas the Sayonara are 258g. I also like the feel of the Hitogami when I run. It is as though they don’t interfere with my stride, and so feel very natural. However, for me they are not cushioned enough to do lots of long distance running in. I think there is noticeably ‘more shoe’ in the Sayonara. Mike

  4. Balthasar says:

    Since you put these shoes in the same category, how would you describe the fundamental differences of the Adidas Adios Boost, the Mizuno Hitogami, and the New Balance 1400?

  5. I’m a long time fan of Mizuno and glad to see you liked the Hitogami’s. I know I shouldn’t care about the upper design but it does look really cool and simple. I wish more running shoes would take this approach.

  6. I was really excited to try these shoes out as soon as they arrived at my door–wasn’t crazy at first about the kind of spongey feeling the cushioning gave. I didn’t notice it much after the first mile, but I’m not sure I’ll be keeping these. I’ve been having a hard time finding a workhorse replacement for my Kinvara 3s.

  7. i have been using Saucony Cortana-it is great shoes and i used it for my full marathon. I felt “no shoes” feelings few times with this. Kinvara was my next full marathon shoes since they are slimier but after your review on Hitogami…shoot!!
    Do you recommend Hitogami as full 42k run?
    I cannot decide…

    • I personally prefer the bit of added softness in the Kinvara over the Hitogami for marathon distance, but see no reason why the Hitogami could not serve well as a marathon shoe.

  8. Big fan of these shoes, love the smooth neutral ride (mid foot/fore foot striker here) lightness, roomy toe box, just enough cushion, my only complaint is I am a trail runner lol of course I have been running them on the trails, just have to slow down on the rougher spots and not tried them on any longer trail runs or anything technical yet..

    I was amazed how nice they were the one time I did run them on asphalt/cement trail

    I totally agree 100% better than Sayonara

    oh they now have 3 other darker colors, purple, blue and a black..that should help hide the dirt

    Think the favorite thing about these shoes is they just have that intangible feel for me , you know those magic shoes you always feel great after running in and often run farther and or faster than you had planned on running

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