8 / 1999

Japan * Wooden geta with leather and velvet Y-string upper

Footwear in Japan has many faces, which can be divided roughly in "Fumidawara" or snowboots, "Kanjuki" - snowshoes, "Ashioke" - wooden boots, "Fakagutsu" - strawboots, "Waragutsu" - strawshoes, "Waraji" - strawsandals with strings, "Zori" - strawsandals with straps, "Geta" - wooden clogs. The last type is probably best known to foreigners. The majority of the Japanese are followers of the "Shinto" religion, which is closely related to Buddhism and influenced by Jainism, believing that spirits live in animals, plants, mountains, rivers and rice fields and that every living creature, no matter how small, has a soul and should not be harmed. This practice of "Ahimsa" - or non-injury, resulted in stilted sandals like the "Geta" above, which protected even the insects living in the earth and discouraged the use of leather for footwear production.

Research and text by : W.A.H.M. Habraken-Oosterhout-Holland
Illustration by : Colin Ball - Waalwijk - Holland