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Geta (Japanese-style wooden clogs)
Nowadays, the term geta refers to all types of wooden footwear.
These types of footwear used to be called ashishita. At the beginning of the Heian period (in the 800s), they were known as ashida and they were worn commonly all the way up to the Edo period. Lacquered geta seem to have already existed at the end of the Heian period (around 1100), and as can be seen in paintings showing Ushiwakamaru wearing black-lacquered ashida as he faces off with Benkei atop Gojo-ohashi Bridge, footwear on which both the platform and supports were lacquered pitch black were worn widely among monk soldiers. Most were made from cedar wood. The platforms were elliptical and the supports were shaped like ginkgo leaves. Both the platform and supports were carved from a single piece of wood, and the supports were elongated to hold the platform high off the ground.
Komageta (low wooden clogs)
Komageta appeared during the Jokyo era (1684~1688) in the Edo period. Unlike ashida (geta with high supports), which had been commonly worn up until then, these square geta were created by hollowing out a diamond-shaped below the center of the platform to form triangular supports on each side.
As these geta made a sound like horse hooves when walking, they became known as umageta (horse clogs). They are the same as sukiyageta, which are used at restaurants and inns even now. From the Manji era (1658~1661) through to the Genroku era (1688~1704) people referred to umageta as koma-no-tsume, and this led to them ultimately being called komageta.
Hanemushi (the original form of the modern two-support clogs)
A form of men’s geta called hanemushi were in use from the Bunka-bunsei era (1804~1830) through to the Tempo era (1831~1845). They were made from straight-grained and cross-grained paulownia wood (and only planks with high-quality grain were used as it did not used to be possible to shave off thin strips of paulownia wood for use in lamination). They differ from modern two-support geta in that the gaps between the supports are of slightly different widths. From around this time, those for men became known as oogata and those for women as aigata.
Ipponba-geta (single-support clogs)
It is said that En no Gyoja (a mountain ascetic) began wearing these. They were considered helpful when ascending and descending mountain trails, and the custom of wearing them also existed in ancient China. Japanese-style ipponba-geta were created by carving a groove below the center of the platform and inserting into this groove a magnolia support approximately 3cm thick and more than 30cm in height. In the Meiji period, these were commonly worn by apprentices at barber shops and restaurant cooks. They have also been worn since ancient times by the Shinto deity Sarutahiko, the herald of festival rites.
Kawarigeta (unique clogs)
Geta worn by prostitutes during the Bunka-bunsei era (1804~1830) at the height of Edo’s prosperity included styles that had white crepe cloth located on the inner side of the platform for wiping soil off of one’s feet, styles on which the strap was made of a bundle of thick white string with coral beads between them to make them sparkle red and styles in which the top of the komageta was covered by a tortoise shell, the sides were lacquered in gold and contained hot water inside the platforms to stay warm in the winter.
Up until around the beginning of the Meiji period, during the period when covered geta were popular, the style of geta created so that the wood grain runs parallel across the face was called Masageta. Following that period, jikabaki-geta (geta with no covering over the wood) became popular as tastes moved from covered geta toward economical types in which practicality was valued over appearance. Types in which the wood grain on top of the platform ran parallel became known as Masageta, and this name has continued to this day. Until the Taisho period, these were only for men, but they later became worn by women as well. Even now, the koppori geta worn by maiko (apprentice geisha) are considered to be of fine quality if the grain runs parallel along the sides. They have now become rare, but craftsmen who create covered geta always incorporate straight grains on the sides. Craftsmen call the different types of straight grains by various names, including koten, shigo, rokushichi, hachikyu, jujo, junijo, jushijo, jurokujo, juhachijo and nijujo. At our shop, we apply wood strips to junijo and lower.
Sanmaiba geta (three-support clogs)
Sanmaiba geta appeared from around the Kyoho era (1716~1736). Geta at that time were unstable as the supports were thin, so these were created by adding another support to improve stability. They were commonly worn by both men and women. However, contrary to their initial purpose, they began to be mainly worn by prostitutes from around the Kanpo era (1741~1744) to the Enkyo era (1744~1748). There were two types of platforms: lacquered and plain wood. And the platforms had tatami covers riveted to them. As they were more stable and easier to walk in than two-support geta, they formed the basis of the later oirandochu geta (worn by courtesans in procession). Users of these geta ranged from red-light districts to common women, and they were responsible for the widespread popularity of three-support geta in the Bunka-bunsei era (1804~1830). During this period, geta did not feature supports but were instead carved from a single piece of wood. They featured side straps that attached between the middle and rear supports, but later versions secured the straps to the sides of the middle supports with hobnails. It is said that, around the Horeki era (1751~1764), even men wore three-support geta that were entirely lacquered black and featured black straps.
These appeared around the Bunka-bunsei era (1804~1830). They were worn by women in general, and are said to have evolved from komageta. At the time, most were lacquered and covered. Some were even gold-lacquered. These geta have retained the same form all the way to the present day. Koppori was a name given to these geta in the Kyoto-Osaka area. They are referred to by a variety of other names around the country, such as koppo in Owari (Aichi prefecture), koppu in Mino (Gifu prefecture), koppuri in Hizen (Saga and Nagasaki prefecture), koppon in Tottori, ponpon in Echigo (Niigata prefecture), bakka in Shimosa (Chiba prefecture), gappa in Aomori, kappo in Shimane, kobobo in Oumi (Shiga prefecture), and kobokobo in Kyoto.
These were made by attaching a cover to hiyorigeta (geta for dry weather), and it is said that they became known as azumageta because they were worn by a prostitute from Yoshiwara named “Azuma” during the Kanei era (1624~1645). From the Bunka-bunsei era (1804~1830), azumageta became the principle type worn, and at the end of the Edo period, they became commonly worn as a fashion item. Geta featuring upper portions made from paulownia wood, supports made from Japanese evergreen oak and nanbu covers are called azumageta, and those without nanbu covers are called hiyorigeta.