Japanese traditional footwear was invented by the Chinese and then came over to Japan. Nowadays you won’t see many Japanese people with traditional footwear unless they’re wearing a kimono of course. Tabi (socks with the big toe separate) are worn to keep the feet warm and to prevent friction from the shoe strap.


These sandals are made from a flat piece of wood on two slats that raise the sole part off the ground. This is to keep the kimono from getting dirty. Geta can be very high or very low depending on the season and clothes worn. For example, high geta can keep your kimono safe from high snow and rain puddles. The strap on the geta is called hanao and it can be made with many sorts of fabric. But cotton with traditional Japanese patterns is a bestseller. The hanao is knotted in a special way on the geta so that it can be replaced when needed. The hanao is always tied in the middle of the geta to prevent the wearer from walking sideways on the geta.

Geta are quite informal footwear and are mostly worn with a yukata and without tabi in the summer.

Geta under a yukata
Geta under a yukata


The main difference between geta and zori is that zori are not made from wood. Compared to their clunky cousin, zori are elegant and formal.  They have a taller wedge-shaped heel that is covered in fabric. Never wear geta under a kimono, but always wear zori. Even if it’s a casual kimono.

Originally, the zori was made from straw and does not look anything like the zori we see with formal kimonos today. They evolved into a dress shoe that is often very expensive. When wearing a formal kimono, the color of your purse and zori matches. Of course this is always up to the individual’s taste.



Also referred to as pokkuri or bokkuri geta from the sound made when walking. Just try repearing “pokkuri bokkuri” a few times, you will noice it sounds like a clomping shoes. They are quite uncommon and only worn by apprentice Geishas called Maiko. The color of the strap indicates the Maiko’s ranking. When you see a red strap, you can be sure the Maiko has just begun her training. The height of these shoes not only insures that the expensive kimono doesn’t get dirty, but it also forces you to walk with small and slow steps.

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The only time when boots are acceptable to wear under a kimono is when wearing a hakama. And this privilege is given only to women. During graduation ceremonies young women often wear a hakama with furisode combination. The boots worn underneath the hakama are very stylish with a low heel.


EXTRA: Tabi socks

Nowadays tabi exist in many different colors and designs. The age of all white is over. Tabi have also moved on from being kimono exclusive and are liked by Japanese for their comortable fit. If you’re wearing a casual kimono or just geta under jeans, these socks can make a statement.

Click here for Part 4: The Rules of Wearing Kimono

Ninja ID: KansaiKitsune


Ilse Montald
From popular culture to traditional culture, I’ve immersed myself in both. I love writing about tradition, history and sharing fun discoveries. If I’m not outside watching a festival parade I’m leisurely reading manga in kimono.MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA


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