Geta (下駄) are a form of Japanese footwear that resembles both clogs and flip-flops. They are a kind of sandal with an elevated wooden base held onto the foot with a fabric thong. They are worn with traditional Japanese clothing such as kimono or yukata, but (in Japan) also with Western clothing during the summer months. Sometimes geta are worn in rain or snow to keep the feet dry, due to their extra height and impermeability compared to other shoes such as zori.

There are several different styles of geta. The most familiar style in the West consists of an unfinished wooden board called a dai (台, stand) that the foot is set upon, with a cloth thong (花緒, hanao) that passes between the big toe and next largest toe. Special toe socks called tabi are worn to accommodate the hanao, although geta are worn on bare feet when one wears yukata.

The two supporting pieces below the base board, called "teeth" (歯 ha), are also made of wood and make a distinctive "clacking" sound while walking: カランコロン or karankoron. This is sometimes mentioned as one of the sounds that older Japanese miss most in modern life.

The dai may vary in shape (oval to rectangular) and color (natural, lacquered, or stained). The ha may also vary in style; for example, tengu-geta have only a single centered "tooth". The hanao can be made with any sort of fabric. Apprentice geisha, also called "maiko", wear distinctive tall geta called okobo which are similar to the chopines worn in Venice during the Renaissance.

Additional Information

  • A traditional saying in Japanese translates as "You don't know until you have worn geta." This means roughly, "you can't tell the results until the game is over."
  • According to Japanese superstition, breaking the thong on one's geta is considered most unlucky.
  • Japanese professional sumo wrestlers in the lowest two divisions of Jonokuchi and Jonidan must wear geta with their yukata at all times. The clacking sound that geta make when walking are consequently something aspiring sumo stars wish to leave behind as soon as possible.

Source: Wikipedia

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