Friday, April 4, 2014

Mizuno Wave Hitogami Review


A couple months ago, I reached out to Seth Hasty (formerly with Mizuno; now with Skechers) about trying out the Hitogami for my blog, especially since I haven’t run in Mizuno since about 2005. A month or so later, the Hitogami arrived at my door for Jordan and I to test out. The Hitogami is not a shoe I would normally consider buying given its heel-to-toe drop of 9mm, but…. it seemed like everyone and their mother-in-law was trying this shoe, so I figured Jordan and I should give it a shot, too. Why not? Shoes are just tools - there is no one shoe that fits all needs. 

The Mizuno Wave Hitogami is Mizuno's new mid/long distance racer, which replaces the Ronin and Musha racing flats. It incorporates Mizuno's new proprietary U4ic EVA foam midsole and, of course, the iconic wave plate. Mizuno graciously provided these shoes to Vagabond Running for review. 

Photo from

What We Like


  • Jordan: This shoe is good-lookin'. Mizuno pulled off what could have been a corny, cheesy, disaster with the kabuki mask design. Each shoe looks great by itself and does not scream that it is half of a whole. Together they are beautiful. The black/turquoise/hot pink version of the shoe is not my favorite, but that does not mean that it's ugly. It's up to your preference at this point. I prefer the white.  
  • Joshua: As Jordan mentioned, this is a sleek shoe. I’m a huge fan of the black-on-pink-on-turquoise: it has that “I’m different” look without screaming it too much. I’m not a huge fan of white shoes as they tend to get dirty quickly, so I am pleased with the color way on this shoe.


  • Jordan: Coming in at 8oz. this shoe is nice and light. It's on the more substantial end of the racing flat spectrum. For example, the Mizuno Wave Universe weighs in at an emaciated 2.8oz. The Hitogami is clearly a more substantial shoe, and I think its weight is about right for the kind of tool it is i.e. distance racing flat.
  • Joshua: I’ve read elsewhere that this shoe is about 7.9oz, either way, it’s extremely light, which is probably why the 9mm drop, which is just a hair more than I would like, doesn’t really impede my stride too much. It’s light enough for fast running, but boasts enough cushion for longer distances at tempo effort.
Photo from 


  • Jordan: I have never loved a shoe so much after a quick lace up. The fit was spot on. The U4ic midsole was bouncy and responsive. I was very excited to take these out for a first run. The upper is nearly flawless. It's light, stretchy, breathable and, most importantly, comfortable. Everyone talks about their overlays, one layer or two, welded and seamless, but this is the first shoe that I've worn where I felt like the upper was exceptionally designed and contributed to my feeling of security in the shoe. It hugs my mid-foot snugly to the platform but feels in no way constricting. My toes splay naturally in the ample toe box. The laces are the only part of the fit that I think could be changed for the better, but I'll mention that in a bit. Suffice to say that the Hitogami fits my foot very well.
  • Joshua: When I first put on the shoe I fell in love with it. Super comfortable, and plenty wide enough in my forefoot to feel no cramping throughout runs. The mesh seems pretty flexible, and my feet do not get hot in the shoe, which will be a plus for summer months. I like the laces on this shoe, too, and can customize how they feel on my feet.


  • Jordan: This shoe's performance met most of my expectations after lace up. The U4ic mid sole has the same resiliency and bounce as it does in the Wave Rider 17. With less rubber in the heel the shoe, however, I find that it interferes far less with my stride and therefore, I am able to take better advantage of the efficiency it offers (at least psychologically). While the Hitogami is designed for racing distances of 10K to the marathon, I find the shoe to be good at almost any distance. I would even consider it for a 5K. Easy runs are likewise no problem, and, as a heavier runner, I can say with confidence that there is enough shoe there to cushion the ride in daily training. Even though a 9mm drop shoe is a bit more than I prefer, the shoe feels level enough. I found that late in a run as my form starts to deteriorate that I tend to heel strike a litter harder. The Hitogami discourages me from doing that due the rigidity of the wave plate. Unlike the Wave Rider, I feel like this shoe encourages a more mid strike.
  • Joshua: Admittedly, I HATED these shoes for the first 30-40 miles that I wore them. My ankles would scream after about 3-4 miles, and my left arch started aching so much. I almost threw them away!!! But then I developed calf camps running in some other shoes, so I needed a shoe with a bit more support, and I decided to give the Hitogami another chance. 110 miles later, I can definitely say that I do not have the same problems in these shoes anymore. I’ve run up to about 12 miles in these shoes; I’ve done 400m repeats at 6:10min/mi pace and 300m repeats at sub-6min/mi pace on the track in these shoes; and I’ve done some 6-8 mi tempo runs, too. The only thing that I would not want to use this shoe for is slower, longer distances. It has plant of traction in the rain, but not that much traction on jeep trails that are wet.
Also, after about 110 miles on mine, there is no noticeable wear on the sole of the shoe. That makes me happy.

What Concerns Us

photo from


  • EVA breakdown—I've noticed a bit of medial side break down in the EVA. I pronate quite a bit so I have come to expect a bit of asymmetrical break down in my shoes over 200 miles or so not around 30 miles. It hasn't caused me any issues at this point but it did catch my attention after just a couple of runs. It may just be aesthetic at this point, but I'll be keeping an eye on it.
  • Laces— The laces are a little wiry and over tightening (which I seem prone to do in this shoe for some reason) will cause discomfort. I think a more traditional lacing material would be fine or else I just have to pay a little more attention when I'm lacing them up
  • Drop— The 9mm is a bit more than I like. On my first run, I experienced a bit of arch pain similar to the Wave Rider 17, which I suspect is due to the drop, but that was the only time. Thankfully I don't notice the drop too much otherwise. That being said, I'd love to see a 4mm-or-so drop version of this shoe. 


  • Initial impression: I’m still a bit worried that I had such pain running in them for the first 30-40 miles. Maybe I broke them in, and that’s why they felt fine for the next 80-90 miles. Still…. if we hadn’t received these shoes for free to review, I would’ve returned them. So, maybe give them a chance if it doesn’t work out on the first couple runs at it seems that the EVA needs to break down a bit. Maybe my feet were getting used to the Wave plate technology?
  • 9mm drop is a bit much even for a racer. This would be a great 4-6mm drop shoe, and hopefully Mizuno will get over its 4mm drop fear.
  • If you’re used to running in more minimal shoes, make sure that you do not tie the laces to tight on these shoes otherwise you will experience some pain.


The Hitogami is everything I liked about the Wave Rider 17, but with fewer trappings. There is a heel counter in this shoe but it's pretty flexible and far less rigid than in the Wave Rider. The Hitogami is designed for mid distance racing, but definitely good for all sorts of training. It's light weight enough for speed work, but cushioned well enough for longer running as well. With good flexibility and a secure fit this shoe shoots straight to the top of my shoe rotation. And maybe, if we're lucky, Mizuno will put out a 4mm drop version of this shoe.

Tech Specs

from Mizuno and Running Warehouse

U4ic midsole delivers lightweight, resilient cushioning.
Traditional Japanese racing flat construction for a fast, low-slung ride.
Kabuki-inspired midfoot wrap for lockdown support.
Flat-bottomed last combined with low toe-spring for inherent stability.
Smooth G3 forefoot rubber for optimal smoothness at touchdown in the forefoot.
Weight: 8.0 oz (size 9)
Stack Height: 23mm (Heel), 14mm (Forefoot)
Available Widths: D=Medium  

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