The Japanese are known for their traditional footwear. One of the shoes that are still part of their culture is geta. This has a similar appearance as flip-flops and clogs. The only difference between the sandals is that geta comes with a wooden base that is elevated. Geta sandals also contain a fabric thong which secures the shoe well above ground.
The history behind geta
During the feudal period, high ranking courtesans in Japan were known to put on this shoe. Traditional dancers that entertained locals during events also wore the geta with some socks known as tabi. They accompanied the authentic shoe with a kimono which covered the entire body. Since the geta is elevated, one could see their toes pocking out under the layers of kimono due to the tall geta.
The people who came up with this type of sandals may not have been fashion-oriented, but they wanted a practical shoe that could keep the feet from getting in contact with things on the ground. The style of making geta may have changed with time, but the structure remains the same. This sandal is made with a solid wood board known as a dai. The shape of the dai varies depending on the intended wearer. Feminine geta have an oval dai while masculine geta come with a rectangular dai.
It also contains two small pegs which are closer to the front part of the shoe. The pegs are referred to as ha, which stands for a tooth. On top of this shoe is a v-shaped strip that is called the hanao. This cloth thong passes between the foot’s big toe and second toe. It can either be hard and narrow or padded and wide. Different materials are used to make this part of the geta, such as printed cotton that contains some traditional motifs. You may also find a geta that includes leather and vinyl hanao.
Below the baseboard are two supporting pieces referred to as ha. These are wooden teeth that are lightweight to enhance movement. Sometimes, the blocks come with a metal plate that boosts the durability of geta sandals.
Due to the popularity of western shoes, the market now offers western looking geta that most people nowadays buy. Geta sandals now come in different styles which people now consider more fashionable compared to the traditional forms.
Why do people put on geta?
According to the Japan culture, geta should be worn with a casual kimono known as yukata. Some people also wear these sandals with some Western clothes, especially during the summer. Geta can also be worn during wet months.
When raining, the Japanese put on geta to maintain dry feet since they are designed with extra height. They work better than conventional flip-flops during the rainy season since they don’t flip dirt up your legs.
Some people used to wear geta in snow. This, however, has changed with time since snow tends to stick on the teeth of the sandals making movement difficult. These type of sandals can be heard before being seen since they produce the same sound as other flip-flops. When you walk in geta, the sandal slaps
against the heel. Since they are designed with solid wood at the bottom, they produce a unique clopping sound while walking.
Sushi chefs as well merchants also used to wear geta to prevent their feet from getting into contact with the scraps on the floor while preparing meals. Some of them used to put on geta, which had a single tooth at the center of the shoe’s sole. Such types of geta were known as tengu-geta. During traditional festivals in the country, young ladies also wear a form of geta known as koppori.
Shopping for geta
Even if you are not a sushi chef or aspiring geisha, you can still get yourself a pair of geta. The market offers geta for each season, making them versatile sandals. You can buy one designed for the rainy season from Japanese or online stores. Some of them go as high as 18 cm.
If you insist on wearing geta in the snow, ensure you get one that contains a metal plate which is attached to its base. This can prevent you from slipping and make walking around snow easier. A wet weather geta should also feature a small cover that can keep your toes entirely dry. During summer, you can also find low geta which are ideal for the hot climate.
Designers of the western style geta prioritize on comfort when making them. You need to look for one that has proper placement of teeth beneath the feet so that you don’t lose balance while walking. You can also get geta in different sizes. Ensure you try them on before purchasing to avoid being disappointed.