Types of Traditional Japanese Footwear

Japanese women sandals
Japanese women sandals | Photo by Vanessa Tay on Unsplash
Alicia Joy

Tokyo Writer

Until the twentieth century, traditional footwear was used exclusively in Japan for thousands of years. Nowadays, these classic shoes are still the best choice when wearing traditional Japanese clothing, from casual yukata to formal kimono. We round up the most common types and their uses.

Did you know – Culture Trip now does bookable, small-group trips? Pick from authentic, immersive Epic Trips, compact and action-packed Mini Trips and sparkling, expansive Sailing Trips.


Waraji are sandals woven from straw. The most traditional material is rice straw. These sandals can also be worn with tabi, the traditional Japanese split-toe socks. Ropes made from the same material wrap around the ankles and bind the sole securely to the foot. During the Edo Period, samurai and commoners alike wore these practical shoes. These days, waraji are only worn for festivals, cosplay or occasionally by Buddhist monks.


In the past, geta had the practical use of keeping your kimono off the ground and away from puddles, snow and dirt. Over time they’ve become the more casual type of traditional shoe and most suitable for yukata, the light summer kimono. What all geta have in common is a wooden base, but there are tens of different types of geta. Here are a few of the most well-known ones.

Hiyori geta / Masa geta

Japanese Geta at the station in Kinosaki Onsen

Hiyori geta are the classic, everyday geta. They usually have a rectangular base and two wooden teeth that run perpendicular to the base’s long side. These low geta were traditionally worn in good weather. They can be lacquered with colored hanao (straps) or unfinished, natural wood. Some modern everyday geta styles do not have any teeth at all, just a wooden base. Wearing tabi is optional.

Taka-ashida geta

Taka-ashida geta are similar to hiyori geta. These sandals were meant to be worn in rain and poor weather, so their two teeth are very tall and thin. With today’s paved roads and street drains keeping mud and puddles to a minimum, there’s little need for taka-ashida.

Ippon geta / Tengu geta

Geta with a single long tooth are nicknamed tengu geta, as the tengu demon from Japanese mythology is usually depicted wearing these. They take practice to be able to walk in, and are mostly reserved for actors, traditional dances, festivals or costumes.

Pokkuri geta / Okobo

Pokkuri geta have a large base cut from a single piece of wood. The inside is hollow and may contain a small bell or tinkling noisemaker so the wearer makes sounds when they walk; pokkuri is onomatopoeia for the sound these shoes make. These are women’s geta and rarely worn except by maiko. Maiko’s geta are known as okobo. They are usually worn with tabi.


Zori are the best choice for kimono, but they can also be worn with yukata. These rounded sandals can be made from vinyl, cork, brocade or any number of modern materials. Traditionally, zori are low but modern styles can have platforms in varying heights. The more informal zori usually have a black or colored thong while the formal styles are white. Zori look best with tabi.


Warazori are similar to waraji in that they are made of the same straw material, but are closer to a flip flop in shape. They are the precursor to the modern zori.


Jika-tabi were invented and popularized during the 1900s. These outdoor shoes are modeled after tabi, leading to them being called “tabi boots” in English. They are sometimes worn by people who work outside, like rickshaw pullers who need to move fast and grip the road, something that would be difficult in traditional sandals. They’re also popular with construction workers.

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.