|Some of the Tom Dixon shoe sculpture collection|
It wasn't a shoe. It was a metal sculpture of a shoe, by artist Tom Dixon, and rather nice they are too.
WaPo, the JPost and others reported the dessert was in an actual shoe, which would indeed have been odd and off-putting. But a metal sculpture is no more a shoe than a sculpture of Churchill is the Bulldog himself.
The assertion that shoes are "despised" in Japan, the "lowliest" thing in Japanese culture, this being a "massive offence" to Japan? I don't buy it. That story was all down to two anonymous diplomats, who don't really seem to know their onions, let alone their footwear. I just don't buy it, any more than I'd buy that the Chinese, or we, Jing and I, "despise" shoes because we too leave our shoes outside. Jing Loooves her shoes! Chinese women looove their shoes. Japanese women looove their shoes (I'm sure!)
As you suggested the chef should have done, I did Google "Japan and shoes". Once you get past all the (nonsense) articles about this latest #Shoegate, I can't find anything about Japanese "despising" shoes. Sure heaps of stories about "Japanese shoe etiquette", the stuff we all know, about how you must leave your shoes outside. So do we here and Mainland. But Chinese no more despise shoes than do westerners - or Israelis. I'm sure it's the same with Japan. I can't find anything that would have alerted an alert chef to the alleged "fact" that the Japanese "despise" shoes. They leave shoes outside for the very practical reason that their homes have tatami mats, which shoes would destroy.
Sure, a metal shoe was an odd choice for a dessert dish, even if it was a famous sculpture. But it was an artistic piece and apparently Abe loved it. While the media were repeating the same story, all clearly taken from a single source, some wire service I guess, and all gonging around their echo chamber with the same lame puns, and hammering Israel and Netanyahu, Abe was blissfully unconcerned..
These anonymous diplomats shouting "offensive", "appalling" and "contemptible", had too much time on their hands.
And obviously I do too…. so enough...
I hope in the meantime you've been able to see something of the Art of Japanese Life. The carpentry, the calligraphy, the design, the architecture. This was a great BBC show.
Best to you both.
PS: This kerfuffle had the flavour of the recent hubbub in the U.S. over a young high school girl wearing a qipao to her graduation. Check it out at qipaogate….confected outrage at "cultural appropriation" in the U.S., while China thought it was just great...