History Of The Plainwood Geta

^Geta (GAY-tah) are the traditional footwear of all kimono-wearers in modern and traditional Japan. They are raised clogs (shoes with a heavy, often wooden sole) and are closely related to the low, wedge-shaped sandals called zori.

Geta are usually made of plain wood with a V-shaped padded fabric thong into which the wearer slips his or her foot, inserting the point of the V between the big toe and the next toe. They are raised off the ground by two wooden pieces under the sole, their height depending upon the weather and the use of the geta.

The design of geta and zori are in keeping with the practice of removing the footwear at the entrance of all buildings. They are easily slipped on and off and are protective of the tabis, or fabric socks, that are worn indoors. The height of geta also take into account the fact that kimonos often have trailing hemlines and that road conditions are not necessarily good for walking.

Special geta for ceremonial wear by dancers, Kabuki (traditional Japanese theater) actors, and geishas (professional hostesses or entertainers) are brightly lacquered and painted and contain, hidden inside of their soles, bells to make a tinkling sound while the wearer walks or dances. Like the kimono, geta were developed in coordination with Buddhist Japan's lack of interest in using animal skins, particularly leather, as a material for clothing because of their religion's warnings against killing animals.

Japanese Modern Boy Costume
A young boy wearing geta, raised clogs that are the traditional footwear of all kimono-wearers in modern and traditional Japan. Reproduced by permission of © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Dalby, Liza Crihfield. Kimono: Fashioning Culture. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1993. Reprint, Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 2001.

Minnich, Helen Benton. Japanese Costume and the Makers of Its Elegant Tradition. Rutland, VT: Charles E. Tuttle, 1963.

[See also Volume 2, Early Asian Cultures: Kimono; Volume 2, Early Asian Cultures: Zori]

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