Making Geta – Traditional Shoes of Japan

Feb 11th, 2009 | By | Category: Lifestyle

Geta MakerGeta are traditional Japanese wooden clogs that are worn with Yukata and can be heard before they are seen.  As the wearer approaches on a quiet street the click-clack can be heard for blocks.

On a recent trip to the Japanese Traditional Craft Center with Danielle of Narrative Disorder we enjoyed watching a Geta maker in action.  He took great care in producing a beautiful array of colors and styles and his dedication to his art-form was apparent as he carefully sanded, rinsed and sanded through layers of lacquer until finally polishing up his masterpiece in preparation for the strap or hanao.

The geta are made from a flat piece of wood atop two slats, know as ha, that raise the sole off the ground anywhere from 4-17 centimeters. This is to ensure that the floor length yukata (casual kimono) does not touch the ground and become soiled. The most common height is 4-5 centimeters but special rain geta, known as ashida, are raised 10 centimeters off the ground and some sushi chefs wear geta with ha as high as 17 centimeters.

Geta Maker1

After the geta are sanded and polished to perfection, holes are drilled for the strap (hanao) and they are tied in place and often custom fitted to the wearer. On the front of some geta the front ha, or slat, is placed as far back as the arch of the foot so walking in geta is a test of balance and can take a bit of practice to master.

Geta Maker2

The geta-making demonstration that we witnessed will result in a subtle black and gold bubble pattern on the sole while the finished geta below employs a woven sole.  Both are beautiful examples of the different style of geta that are available.

Geta Finished

The Japanese Traditional Craft Center is located in Ikebukuro, a ward of Tokyo, and presents visitors with an impressive array of traditional arts & crafts from the various regions of Japan and often hosts demonstrations by traditional artisans and crafts people.  The center is open daily from 11Am until 5PM and admission is free.

Image Credit:  Personal Collection

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