Geta (下駄)

Geta (Japanese wooden sandals) is Japanese traditional footwear, and is put on by putting feet on wooden boards and fixing toes with a strap which is called O (or Hanao). The manufacturing processes of geta are to attach protruding portions for touching the ground which are called "Ha" (teeth) to the wooden board, drill three holes called "Me" (eyes), and put Hanao through these three holes. Hanao is worn by pinching Hanao with the first and second toes.

Terms and structure

Japan has the following three kinds of footwear using O: Geta using a wooden base board as a part to put the feet on, Zori (Japanese footwear sandals) using soft materials such as grass, and Waraji (straw sandals) worn by covering the undersides of feet to the extent of heel, and tying the feet with O so as to prevent Waraji from separating from the feet. China also has Geta, but, does not have a word applicable to Geta, and Geta are called wooden footwear, including sabo.

The portion to put the feet on is called the base board. The base board is mainly made of paulownia and cedar tree. The paulownia in the Tohoku district ranks high because it has narrower spaces between the annual rings than from those from warmer districts.

A portion attached to the underside of the base board is called Ha (teeth), and two teeth are usually attached ahead and in the rear, but one tooth or three teeth are attached in some cases. Geta made by carving the base board and teeth from one piece of wood are called renshi-geta, and the ones made by attaching teeth separately made to the base board are called sashiba-geta. It is said that 'Ipponba-geta' (one-tooth geta) (Takageta, tall wooden clogs) with one tooth were worn by Tengu (long-nosed goblin) and were used for ascetic practice in the mountains. Geta with no teeth which are called 'boat shape' also exist. The base board is made of oak, Japanese zelkova, Japanese white-barked magnolia, etc.

Three holes are drilled in the base board. One hole is drilled ahead of, and two holes are drilled side by side in the rear of base board. These holes are called Me.

A strap put through Me is called O or Hanao. Hanao used to indicate a top of O which was pinched by toes, but came to indicate the entire of O. O is made of various materials. Hemp, palm, rice straw, bamboo sheath, vine, or leather were used as materials in ancient times, and O was finished by often wrapping such materials in a cloth.
Since Hanao (described as 鼻緒 in Japanese characters) is colorful, it is also described as '花緒.'

How to use Geta

Geta are basically put on when wearing traditional Japanese clothes, but, are often put on in combination with traditional Japanese clothes for informal wear, not for formal wear. When wearing yukata (Japanese summer kimono), Geta are basically put on barefoot. In some cases, Geta are put on when wearing a Western dress. An appearance where male students put on Geta in combination with a loose outfit (school uniform) as fashion is called Bankara (rough and uncouth style).

As in the case that people do not wear traditional Japanese clothes often, people do not put on Geta generally in present-day Japan. This may be because gravel municipal roads which made up more than 90% were rapidly asphalted taking advantage of the Tokyo Olympic Games.

In and after around 1995, the number of young ladies who put on Geta as informal footwear increased because they felt that 'Geta are cute, and make a good sound.'
In association with popularization of yukata, the popularity of Geta is also on the verge of restoration. Geta used to be avoided because Hanao gave pain to the toes, or Geta created difficulties in walking. However, as a result of improvement of Geta by yukata manufacturers and footwear companies so as not to cause pain, and of by introducing workmen who adjust Hanao to fit the toes in many places, easy-to-walk Geta are increasing. Since the number of adults who let children wear Geta so as to train their legs increases, children get familiar with Geta from a very young age, and it is often seen that elderly ladies wear Geta as sandals. Japanese-style hotels in hot spring resorts are equipped with yukata and Geta, and when guests visit sotoyu (any and all public baths in the town outside), Japanese-style hotels lend Geta, and guests go out wearing them. There are some hot spring resorts which have developed a town on the premise of wearing Geta, such as Kinosaki Hot Spring, Naruko Hot Spring, etc., and Geta are lent in some regions.

Production area

Matsunaga, Fukuyama City, Hiroshima Prefecture (producing 60% of the national production volume)

Hita City, Oita Prefecture

Other production areas are Fukushima, Nagano, Niigata, Akita and Shizuoka. In particular, areas around the Aizu region, Fukushima Prefecture, are famous as area producing high-quality paulownia.

Kinds of Geta

Ashida (wooden clogs)

It has a structure of putting teeth into the base board (ashida was made by hollowing out one whole wood in the early stages). Its teeth are taller than those of usual Geta. This was used during a period from the late Heian period to the Edo period, and was only used as footwear on rainy days during the Edo period. For this item, refer to Hiyori-geta (dry weather geta). What was worn by old-education system high school students was this kind of Geta (Hoba no Takaeta (high clogs with teeth made of Japanese white-barked magnolia)). It was regarded as a symbol of high school students to wear a cloak, Heihabo (shabby clothes and torn cap) and Takageta.

Yamageta (coarse wooden clogs)

Both teeth and base board are made by hollowing out one wood. This was named after the event where a wood cutter made this Geta, and visited Edo to sell it in the early Edo period. The base board was square, and was made of paulownia in many cases.

Yoshiwara-geta (coarse wooden clogs)

This was almost the same as Yamageta, but was made of a cedar tree. Hanao was made of bamboo sheath. During a period from the early to mid Edo period, this was lent to visitors to Yoshiwara (Tokyo) by Machiai-jaya (tea house to lend seats and tables, or rooms) when they were caught in the rain.

Pokkuri-geta (lacquered tall clogs)

This was footwear for Kamuro (apprentices of high-class prostitutes) attending on Oiran (prostitutes) in Yoshiwara or on Tayu (geisha of the highest rank) in Shimabara. Younger geisha girls such as maiko (apprentice geisha) and hangyoku (child geisha) also wear this Geta. Or, small and young girls also generally put on this. This is black-lacquered Geta in the shape of inverted trapezoid, or little taller Geta made of plain wood. Its surface is sometimes covered by the outer layer of a tatami mat. To the base board, gorgeous gold-sprinkled lacquerware is sometimes provided. A bell which is sometimes put in the base board makes a sound while walking.
Pokkuri-geta is also called 'Okobo,' 'Koppori' or 'Kobokobo.'

Robo-geta

This was sashiba-geta, and hozo (a raised part of joint) of teeth was visible in the base board. This was popular in and around the early Edo period.

Yanagi-geta

Its base board was made of a willow, and its teeth were made of Japanese white-barked magnolia. Its characteristic was that teeth put into the base board hardly came away from it, and this was passed down from Kamigata (Osaka and Kyoto area). This was popular in Karyukai (world of the geisha) in the latter half of the 17th century.

Uma-geta

This is the direct origin of present-day Geta. This was sashiba-geta which was made of a cedar tree and was rectangular. It is said that the trapezoidal shape hollowed out in the underside of the base board made a sound of hoofs while walking.

Koma-geta (low wooden clogs)

This was Geta further developed from Uma-geta, and was categorized as Hiyori-geta available on fine days as well as on rainy days. This appeared in the late period of the 17th century, and was popularly used by men and women as informal wear. This was the most popular Geta before the Meiji period.

Kiri-geta

This came to be used as a high-grade or luxury article a little after the appearance of Koma-geta. This was black-lacquered in the beginning, but, wooden-basis Geta became popular thereafter.

Odawara-geta

This was born at the waterfront of Edo in the beginning of the 18th century. This was the original Geta of later Hiyori-geta and Rikyu-geta. Its benefit was that teeth were replaceable when they were worn out because this geta was made by using a dovetail joint, and the roots of teeth did not appear on the base board. Its characteristic was that leather was used for Hanao, and this Geta was finished in a delicate manner in whole. This was a luxury article, but, fish dealers at the waterfront preferred to wear this.

Geho-geta (described as both "外方下駄" and "下方下駄" in Japanese characters)

The base board made of paulownia had masame (straight grain), and teeth made of an oak had a round shape. This had a reputation of being comfortable during downhill walking, and was popular at the beginning of the 18th century. In order to distinguish from others, a mark of Bishi (rhombus) or gourd was inscribed.

Sukeroku-geta

This was Geta put on by a main character in "Sukeroku," one of Kabuki juhachiban (eighteen best plays of the Ichikawa family of kabuki actors). This was popular at the time of the first performance (1713). The base board made of paulownia had ito-masame (a fine straight grain), was oval, and this was sashiba-geta with teeth made of a Japanese white-barked magnolia.

Ukon-geta

This had a curved surface and no teeth. A place of surface around which the arch of the foot touched was hollowed out. The underside of present-day Ukon-geta is generally covered by sponge.

Hiyori-geta (dry weather geta)

This was named after the meaning against Ashida (for rainy weather). There are several definitions depending on the season; however, this Geta for men was rectangular, was made of paulownia (Geta with fine straight grain was regarded as a luxury article), and was approx. 21.8cm to 22.1cm tall (this Geta for women was shorter by approx. 1.5cm. The usual height of teeth is approx. 6.67cm (this height is called Taisa), and when this height is changed to approx. 10cm (this changed height is called Kyosa), Geta is called Ashida (Taka-ashida) (taller Ashida).

Rikyu-geta

This is sashiba-geta and is categorized as Hiyori-geta. This name is mainly used in Kamigata. It is said that this was invented by SEN no Rikyu.

Azuma-geta

This was Hiyori-geta of which the surface was covered by a tatami mat. This was popular in the late Edo period. Its base board was made of paulownia, and its teeth were made of a Japanese evergreen oak. Hanao was often made of velvet, and the low height was mainstream.

Tetsu-geta (iron geta)

This is made of iron, not wood.

Takageta (tall wooden clogs)

Its teeth are vertically long. Since this is taller than the usual one, and people look taller when wearing it, this is called Takageta.

Atsuba (thick teeth)

This is Geta whose teeth are horizontally thick. Takageta with thick teeth were preferentially used especially by students called Bankara.

Ta-geta (farming clogs)

This was found from remains in the Yayoi period, and is the oldest footwear in Japan. This was considered to be used in agricultural work at rice fields or in walking through marshy ground. It is considered that this was the original form of Geta in Japan.

Ipponba-geta (one-tooth geta)
Geta usually have two teeth, but 'Geta with one tooth' also exist. This is used for walking along the mountain path, and was mainly used by priests doing ascetic practice in the mountains, and by ascetic Buddhist monks including yamabushi (a mountain priest). A theory that this was put on by Tengu comes from the above. In the olden days, people who performed public entertainments including Echigojishi, or performed acrobatics put on this Geta to show their capacity of balance. However, in these years, this Geta regain a reputation and many people from children to adults put them on because it is considered to lead to development of a sense of physical balance and the muscles of the lower body, and to be good for chiropractic and rehabilitation.

Geta-skate

These were skates peculiar to Japan, which had a structure of putting iron blades on the teeth of Geta. This was used in various regions in Japan during the period from the Meiji period to around 1960.

Weather forecast

Kicking up Geta, and forecast the weather based on the shape of how the Geta fall down. If the top side is up, it will be fine, and if the top side is down, it will be rainy.

Geta-tobashi (kicking Geta away)

The Japan Geta-Tobashi Association (JGTA) in Fukuyama City developed the above method of forecast to the competition. The official rules are established, and several competitions authorized by the Association are held.

Benkei-geta-odori dance in the Benkei Festival

This is a festival held in Tanabe City, Wakayama Prefecture, which is regarded as the birthplace of Musashibo Benkei, and an event of competing dances by attaching a bell to Geta is held.

Geta-so-odori dance (All geta dance) performed in the Niigata So Odori (All Niigata dance festival)

A festival of dancing for three days and three nights used to be held in Niigata about 300 years ago when Niigata was still called 'Funae no sato.'
A geta dance in which people put on their own original costumes and Koashida (small Ashida) used to be performed in the above festival. This dance was produced based on existing picture scrolls and materials, aiming at reviving passions of people in Niigata toward festival and dance.

Haiku including the term "Geta"
Haiku written by Densutejo (present-day Tanba City; one of the female Rokkasen (female six famous poets) in the Edo period) at the age of six was 'Yuki no asa, Ni-no-ji Ni-no-ji no, Geta no ato (which means that in the morning of snowy day, a trace of Geta remains in the shape of figure 2 (2 is described as 二 in Japanese character)).

Geta wo azukeru

Assign the right to make a decision (concerning own matter) and leave (such matter) to someone else totally (because of being unable to do on my own).

Geta wo hakaseru

Raise (exam scores) as a bonus. This phrase has an image of pushing up from below (because people become taller when putting on Geta).

Geta wo hakumade wakaranai

Have no idea of result until everything (about a game, etc.) is over (putting on Geta to go home).

Geta-den (train)

Common name of trains running in the suburbs of city (national trains) in the era of Japan National Railway. It is said that this name came from availability as daily transportation like Geta.

Geta-bako (shoe cupboard)

Place to store shoes. Although Geta became unpopular, the term remains even today (like 'fudebako' (pen case, literary writing brush case)).

Sound of geta

Because Geta are wooden, a characteristic sound is made while walking.
This sound is often expressed as 'karakoro' or 'karan koron.'
Therefore, this sound is often regarded as noise in a present-day city even if it generates an atmosphere when people stroll in yukata on the day of festival or fireworks, or stroll in hot spring resorts, and not a few places say 'No Geta' (including the reason that Geta damages a floor). As a countermeasure against the above, Geta with teeth of which the bottoms are covered by rubber are sold.

Works relating to Geta

Dance of footprint

Geta which remains animal footprints after walking
This work shows that footprints are also decorated by designing bottoms of the teeth of Geta in the shape of animal footprints although Hanao and the shape of Geta were decorated. This is presented as evolution of new design of Geta.

What is called Geta

In the era when types were used in printing, there was a custom of using an upside-down type as a substitute for necessary types which were unavailable. Since types had square and flat bottoms, and had inscriptions of thick grooves crossing the center, the shape of '〓' which appeared when they were printed was called 'Geta' because it looked like a footprint of Geta. This was also called a cipher.

Geta is a common name of a board with extension wires which is used when diagnosing and analyzing a failure through processes of drawing a specific board suspected to have a failure among multiple printed-circuit boards incorporated in a device, attaching a connector to a same-sized printed-circuit board as such circuit board, establishing a one-to-one extension wire between the device and the connector, and observing the performance of a circuit with an oscilloscope or analog multimeter. This is also called Extension Card, but, these years, with respect to a circuit, this Geta is less used in the circuit because the faulty circuit board is replaced entirely without implementing on-site diagnosis by reason of multiple use of integrated circuit and personnel expenses for repair.

A socket component used to put electronic components such as semiconductor memory into the printed-circuit board is called 'Geta' from its shape. An adapter to use CPUs with different working voltages is sometimes called so.

Wooden board to put sushi on