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What's Cool

Japanese Footwear:
Fashionable and Good for Health

Part 1

Rediscovering the Advantages of Traditional Footwear

Are you familiar with Japanese footwear? Of course, most people wear shoes, but traditional footwear is also worn—geta and zori are two examples. These days, Japanese people are rediscovering traditional footwear's advantages.


These geta are not only stylish, the thongs and base board shape are designed to stimulate pressure points of the feet and improve circulation (Cooperation: Mizutori Kogyo Co., Ltd.)

Geta are made of a flat piece of wood, a base board, with two smaller pieces of wood, called "teeth," attached on the underside. Near the front and middle of the base board is a hole for a length of cord (hanao in Japanese), which splits into two and stretches back to the rear right and left of the base board, where they are separately attached. The cord at the front is slipped between the big toe and second toe. Zori are basically the same design, but their base boards are made of woven straw or woven bamboo sheath instead of wood. They also lack the geta's teeth, have flat soles, and the top of the base board is sometimes covered in leather or vinyl.

Both types of footwear have a long history in Japan. Geta have been found in archeological remains dating back 1,500 years. People wear kimono, the traditional clothing of Japan, with geta or zori during the New Year, and at weddings, coming-of-age ceremonies, shichi-go-san (a festival celebrating children's health and growth), and other festivals. Nowadays, they are commonly worn with yukata, a light and easy-to-wear type of kimono, at summer festivals.

yukata geta

Geta with a pretty polka-dot pattern and rose decoration (above) pair well with a modern dress-like yukata (left) (Cooperation: Kyoto Ruri Hinagiku)


Left: Zori with a cute fruit motif (Cooperation: Shimai-ya) Right: A thong decorated with rhinestones (Cooperation: RoyalCheaper)

Traditional footwear with more contemporary designs has recently become available. Aimed at young women and children who enjoy wearing kimono in more casual way, modern geta and zori have floral or fruit patterns printed on the base board. The hanao is often decorated with rhinestones or lace and padded for extra comfort. These cool and cute styles are currently very popular.