Clogs perfect for Christmas

The traditional simple wooden clog, called geta, comprise of a raised wooden base and fabric thong to keep the foot well elevated above the ground. They look a little bit like wooden flip flops on stilts. The geta, worn in Japan by both women and men with clothing such as the kimono, originally had a practical function; elevating the wearer and keeping garments from touching the ground and becoming dirty.  However, the geta became richly decorated for the nobility and took its wearer to extreme heights during the Edo period (1603-1868).

Geta with toe cover, 1920s, Japan

Some Japanese clogs have solid platforms while others have stilts, or teeth, ranging from only one stilt to three, but most common are two stilts. Tabi socks are generally worn with geta, designed to be worn with thong toes.

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Detail of the thong and toe cover

The wooden base are sometimes ornately decorated. Here, three cranes and a pine tree in gold, black and red embellish the sides. The red-crowned crane is said to live for 1,000 years, so they symbolise longevity and also loyalty, as crane mates for life.

 

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Cranes and pine tree

This pair of red lacquered geta with silver decorated red velvet thong has just arrived from Japan. This is the first pair of geta to be acquired by the V&A, and will of course feature in the forthcoming shoe exhibition. The geta would have been worn by an affluent woman sometime in the 1920s on colder days, as they have a permanent toe cover with a fur trim, probably squirrel fur – keeping the tabi clad toes a bit warmer.

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