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wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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Now is a great time to grab yourself a beautiful, genuine Japanese kimono, haori or all manner of other Japanese garments and many other things from my  website because right now there is 15% of everything on the website.

Womens’, Men’s and Children’s kimonos…





All types of footwear…






All obis…

All haori kimono jackets…


Cozy jackets…

More kimonos



…and 15% off absolutely everything else on the, not just the clothing.


You can check out my website, providing a wonderful range of vintage & antique Japanese kimonos & collectables.

Rita Ora.
One of my vintage, silk kimonos, from, modelled by the beautiful Rita Ora.


Please note that any advertisements shown below my posts are put there by WordPress, not by me. I am not responsible for whatever product or service is advertised and it being there does not mean that I endorse or recommend it. 

Magazine and Novel – In Print

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wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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Some footwear was used in a fashion shoot in the Spring/Summer 2018 issue of the high end AnOther Magazine. It was interesting to see my tabi and geta as part of ensembles with the likes of Alexander McQueen couture.

Here we have a pair of  tabi socks with Proenza Schouler dress and Feben Vemmenby shoes. pink tabi socks and geta shoes, with pink Helmut Lang coat.

This froth of ruffles is a National Theatre costume worn with taupe tabi socks and Vic Matié mules.

Alexander McQueen pink dress worn with with pink tabi socks and geta shoes.

Taupe tabi in the ensemble on the right.

Yesterday was International Women’s Day 2018, which made me think of the fact that the first novel ever written was written by a woman. The novel was The Tale of Genji (Genji Monogatari), written by the Japanese noblewoman and lady in waiting, Murasaki Shikibu, in the early years of the 11th century.

The Tale of Genji is a novel about the life of Hikaru Genji, the son of an ancient Japanese emperor, who, for political reasons, removed Genji from his line of succession, demoting him from noble to commoner. The story follows his life, especially romantic life, from that point on.

Many traditional designs in Japanese textile art, graphics etc. reference this work and there are motifs that reference it too, such as genji-gumo, a stylised shape of cloud used in early illustrations for the text, and genji-guruma, a Heian Era imperial carriage wheels. Clouds are often included in artistic scenes referring to the Heian Court because courtiers were referred to as “those who live among the clouds” (Kumo no Uebito). Genji-guruma motif, the carriage wheels, represent nobility, court life and good fortune, as only nobility from the Imperial court were allowed carriages with such huge wheels (because they did so much damage to roads, so had to be limited in numbers).

You can also check out my website, providing vintage & antique Japanese kimonos & collectables.

Rita Ora.
One of my vintage, silk kimonos, from, modelled by the beautiful Rita Ora.


Please note that any advertisements shown below my posts are put there by WordPress, not by me. I am not responsible for whatever product or service is advertised and it being there does not mean that I endorse or recommend it. 

Time Has Flown

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wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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Time Flies
It feels like just last month that I made my last blog post here but it has actually been much longer.

Tabi pumps
I found these Irregular Choice, hint of tabi toe pumps. Aren’t they sweet?




Odori kimono
This fresh green kimono is one available on my website. It is an odori kimono, and one of the few kimonos that I have more than one of. They were made for a traditional, Japanese dance troupe (odori means dance) and are a lovely, crisp green with simplified, painterly kiku (chrysanthemum) design. It is made of synthetic textile, so is conveniently hand washable. Odori kimonos are often made of washable textile.




Three months have been filled with looking after my daughter. I moved to her flat to do that. She had a pneumothorax, which is a collapsed lung. She actually had four, as the lung kept collapsing, and, in the end, had to be operated on to fix it.


The first attempt to deal with it was done using a wide bore needle. This was to let out the air in the cavity that was pushing the lung flat. It only worked temporarily, after a couple of days of feeling better she steadily deteriorated and within the week had to go back and have that done again. Once more that failed to give lasting improvement, so she spent time in hospital with a chest tube. Even this wasn’t fully relieving the symptoms and, when removed, her lung soon collapsed again. It was decided that an operation to mend her lung was necessary, so another test tube was inserted for several days until she was moved to another hospital to have the surgery.


The Victoria Infirmary

The first hospital was the old Victoria Hospital in Glasgow, it was awful. Run down, wards with lots of patients, many senile. It opened on St Valentine’s Day 1890. The staff, I’m sorry to say, were rather inept and very unhelpful. The night she was admitted and had the chest tube put in, the doctor had omitted to say that she should have had strong pain killers through the night. She was in agony; awake, crying and whimpering all through the night but the night staff would give her nothing for the pain other than a couple of paracetemol. The doctor on rounds the next day was horrified. She had an important, time sensitive blood test to be done, arranged prior to the lung problem, and for days she tried to get the ward’s nurses to find out about arranging it while she was stuck in hospital. They kept saying they would but it was just lip service and the essential day came and went and it wasn’t done. She also had another prior appointment that she was not going to be able to attend, in a department in that same hospital. She asked nurses to cancel it so someone else could use it, since she couldn’t attend it. Each one said they would but not one did. She managed to find the phone number on the day of the appointment, called herself and learned that no one had bothered to tell them.  My daughter was told that she would be transferred to The Golden Jubilee Hospital for the operation, a hospital that specialises in heart and lung conditions and in orthopedics too. Two or three days before she was due to be transferred she mentioned something about it to the ward nurse, who then told my daughter that it might not be the Jubilee at all, it might be another really old hospital in Glasgow instead. Right up until she was put into the ambulance for the transfer, we couldn’t find out for certain where she would be going. It was so frustrating and she was more and more stressed by this. She was scared and the Victoria Infirmary was awful in so many ways but her one consolation was that her operation would be done in an excellent, well appointed hospital by a lung specialist.

I was also waiting to hear where she was being taken, so I could go visit her there as soon as she was transferred. The staff in the ward told me they’d phone me when she was to be moved. When she was being put onto the gurney to go to the ambulance, she asked a nurse in her ward to phone me, to tell me where she was being taken. The nurse said, “you just do it yourself”. She had to phone me from the ambulance, so relieved to be leaving the Victoria Infirmary, it’s awful staff, its inedible food, its weird, unfamiliar, creeping insects, it’s big ward full of other people and its complete lack of privacy or quiet. She was very relieved to learn that she was going to the Golden Jubilee hospital after all.

The Golden Jubilee Hospital

You can see the Golden Jubilee Hospital above, though it is only part of that huge building, the rest is the hotel and conference centre. Compared to the Victoria Infirmary, it was like chalk and cheese; The Golden Jubilee Hospital provided spaceous, private rooms with en suite toilet and shower room, efficient, helpful and pleasant staff and the best of modern equipment. Not only that, the food was out of this world. Food we’d happily pay well for in a restaurant. Her room provided a television and free wifi. The only thing that had made her previous hospital endurable was a cheap, crappy tablet I have, with a crack in the corner of the glass, which allowed her to watch films and tv shows and shut out the rest of the ward, her pain and her fears. The Victoria Infirmary had provided no television and no wi-fi. I had regretted buying that tablet some time back, because it wasn’t good quality and I didn’t really need it anyway (I’d bought a very cheap one just to see if I would actually use one) but I was now so glad I had it because it kept my daughter sane during her two or so week stay in the Victoria. It had cost only £69 and had suddenly become a very useful purchase. When the nurse got her into bed at the Jubilee, he asked if she wanted her television switched on. She declined, saying, “I’m getting enough pleasure just seeing that there actually is a tv in my room”. Shortly after that I got a text from her saying that they gave her a cup of tea in a real, ceramic cup! She was struggling to breathe, in pain but her spirits were raised and she now felt cared for and a bit less scared. By the time I got there, she was groggy and getting oxygen; her operation would be the next day.


My daughter had been warned that the operation was a very painful one, post op, because, as you can see above, the talc causes the lung to become inflamed. She had a camera inserted into the chest, into the cavity around the lung, then whatever they use to for the keyhole surgery, then a wide tube was put in through her ribs at the bottom of the lung and attached to a small machine that she carried when she was eventually able to briefly get up. In the Victoria the tubes were connected to portable jars containing water and they looked for bubbles, in the Jubilee it was a very fancy machine with digital read-out, various electronic sounds and lights. This tube was even larger than the previous ones and caused much pain. She had a button that released painkiller but she had rather overdone it before she found that out she shouldn’t just keep pushing that button. It reduced the pain a lot but did not get rid of it, so she was pressing it every 15 minutes. She now knew what they meant by saying it was a painful operation and it remained extremely painful for a very long time.

She got home from hospital the evening of the day after the operation because she had someone available to look after her full time. I drove her home as slowly as I could because the tiniest hint of a bump was agonising. Once home, she couldn’t do anything, weeks of recovery were required. I moved into her flat and cared for her for several weeks. Her fiance cared for her at weekends and took time off work now and then, so I’d go home at those times, but most of the time he had to be at work during the day, so I stayed at their flat. She is not quite 100% yet and a tiny bit of her lung has not re-inflated but she has been told that is inconsequential. There is still some healing to be done, some swelling to go down and she has damaged nerves causing severe discomfort down the  right side of her chest,which happened during the first treatment she got at the Victoria Infirmary (insertion of a wide bore needle, then a tube) and no one knows if that will ever go away but the lung is apparently fixed. Good news, since there was a 5% chance that her lung would collapse again after the operation. It seems unlikely the repair will fail now.

Southern General Hospital – Glasgow

The Victoria Infirmary in Glasgow is now closed. The Southern General Hospital at Braehead has been rebuilt (see image above) and is now huge, incorporating four Glasgow hospitals, the other three of which have now been permanently closed. Not a moment too soon as far as the Victoria Infirmary is concerned and no doubt those other ancient ones too. Some newspaper recently printed a complaint, by someone in England, that Scotland had got this big, new hospital but they didn’t take into account that this is one that was rebuilt and three others were shut down. Those three were also old Victorian buildings, with severely run down, now unsuitable buildings and old, out of date equipment.this new one isn’t an additional hospital, it one new one in place of four very old ones.

The Royal Jubilee, where my daughter’s operation was done, is a fantastic hospital but that is sheer luck. It is part of a building that is a hotel, a conference centre and hospital. It was built in 1994, as a private hospital, built by Abu Dhabi Investment Company. The initial cost was £180 million. The venture proved unsuccessful in private hands and the hospital was purchased for the National Health Service, at a vastly reduced cost of £37.5 million in 2002. I think the kitchens may prepare food for the hotel, conference centre and hospital, which is why the food is so darned good.


Ally Hilfiger Haori
I was watching something on television about Sears in the USA. It showed Ally Hilffiger, daughter of the American clothing designer Tommy Hilfiger, wearing a vintage Japanese haori.


Ally Hilfiger




I also spotted pictures of Daphne Guinness wearing a kimono and a haori.



Daphne Guinness in a Japanese haori
Worn with an ultra-deep belt


You can also check out my website, providing vintage & antique Japanese kimonos & collectables.


One of my kimonos being modelled by the singer Rita Ora



Please note that any advertisements shown below my posts are put there by WordPress, not by me. I am not responsible for whatever product or service is advertised and it being there does not mean that I endorse or recommend it. 

Moon Rabbit, Geisha Wallpaper & Paris Vogue

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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The Japanese Moon Rabbit
Tsukiyo no Usagi; the rabbit in the moon. The Moon rabbit in Japanese folklore is a rabbit that lives on the moon, based on pareidolia (the phenomenon of seeing images that seem significant, like clouds in the shape of objects, faces in foodstuffs etc) that identifies the markings of the moon as a rabbit (sometimes said to be a hare). The story exists in many cultures, particularly in East Asian folklore, where the rabbit is seen pounding in a mortar and pestle. In Japanese versions it is pounding the ingredients for mochi (rice cake/dumplings).

In the Japanese anthology, Konjaku Monogatarishu (lit. Anthology of Tales from the Past; a Japanese collection of over one thousand tales written during the late Heian period of 794-1185), a long, long time ago in a far distant land there lived a rabbit, a fox and a monkey who believed that they had sinned in their former lives. Thus, as punishment, they are reincarnated as animals. Determined to compensate for their former sins, they gathered one day and promised to each other to be good and love each other as brothers.

From heaven, Taishakuten, a deity in the Land of Gods, looked upon them in disbelief. “Impossible! The present world is filled with hatred! Even siblings will go as far as to hate, rob or even kill each other. These humans have no compassion and regret anymore, you are telling me that you ANIMALS have it?” he thought to himself. As a test of their true faith, Taishakuten transformed himself into a weak, old man, and descended to the sinful world where the three animals lived. He laid himself down on a path, pretending to be in severe sickness, great pain and nearing death.
Soon enough the three animals passed by this seemingly dying old man. “Salvation… please, help this old man. I have an unfinished journey in front of me, but I have been overcome by hunger and thirst… Anyone, anything, please offer this old man his salvation…” He begged to the three animals in a frail voice.
Seeing this as the perfect chance to prove their determination to be good, the monkey ran off into the forest and brought back fruits and vegetables; the fox went to the graveyard and brought back offerings to the dead that people have left behind; rice cakes, fish, beverages and such.

Rabbit Netsuke

Being small and weak and used only to collecting grass for food, the rabbit was not able to find anything to save the dying man. In great shame, he went back to the old man. “I am so sorry but I have not yet found anything; I will search elsewhere. Please make a fire and await my return”,  the rabbit requested.
Standing by the old man, the smug fox and monkey were getting impatient, “The rabbit brought back nothing and now he tells us to make a fire and wait for him? Useless!” exclaimed the fox and the monkey in disgust. Moments later the rabbit returned, still with nothing. He stared into the fire, then jumped into its flames, making himself food for the old man.
Taishakuten, was so very impressed and touched by such a self-sacrificing act that he proclaimed that the rabbit would be ascended to the moon, so that humans will remember the rabbit and his selfless act forever.

In Japanese art it is sometimes depicted as two rabbits on the moon.

The night of the 15th of September, or ‘Jugo-ya’ (Fifteenth night), is a time when the Japanese go out and appreciate the beauty of the mid-autumn full moon. Such activity is known as ‘O-tsuki-mi’ (moon viewing). ‘Mochi’ (rice dumplings), watermelons, chestnuts and numerous autumn fruits are offered to the bright, full moon. Such offerings are arranged on small, decorative stands and are placed near the windows of Japanese homes.

Rabbits are a popular motif on Japanese fans and textiles and all sorts of other items, like in the images of a Japanese textile and tabi shown above. Examples of rabbits depicted in Japanese antiques are this fabulous netsuke…

and this spectacular antique kimono…


On a change of topic, I discovered this extremely expensive wallpaper the other day. I wouldn’t want it on my walls but it was interesting to see.


Recently I saw this lovely furisode kimono in a Paris Vogue from Novemeber 2010…



Snow… man, robot & squirrel… snow play!

wafuku new year

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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Christmas has passed and New Year beckons.

I loved having snow thick on the ground here on Christmas day, it’s been so long since we had a white Christmas. My daughter came home to spend Christmas here and, even at 36 years old, was really excited by the snow.

On Christmas day we started making a snow man, by 27 December we had built a snowman, called Lyle, a Kid Robot and a snow squirrel and were quite exhausted by it.

In the photos below, you can get an idea of the snowy conditions and the outcome of all our snow play. The first shows my daughter in part of the back garden, the second shows the snow topped, permanent sculpture there, a stylised mule called Mr Lamb.

In next few photos you can see us making the snowman. He got named Lyle because my daughter decided to add a quiff and he suddenly looked a bit like Lyle Lovett. We used some ash from the log fire in the house to outline his hair a touch. He was built near the front of property, to be seen through the kitchen window

Next was Kid Robot, built on the lawn called the washing green.

It was started in daylight but time flies when carving a snow figure and we continued to work after dark, relying on a little light from the house reflecting off snow. Most of the light in the photos below is from the camera flash.

Next his chin was bulked out a bit, his mohican adjusted and his eyes worked on but he got crumbly towards the end of his construction, so we stopped at that and didn’t add the ear discs for fear of the head breaking off (again).

We then moved to the top back lawn, to make the next and final thing, before it got too dark and the snow got too icy to manipulate. The final one we made was a snow squirrel, because we like watching the squirrels scampering about on that lawn. By then it was pretty dark and the snow had thawed enough to have dropped off the trees but snow still lay over the ground and had got quite icy on the surface, so it was hard to work. It’s still there and I’d like to make some adjustments to it but it’s now so frozen and the snow on the ground is powdery below a crisp frozen layer and none of that lends itself to making changes to the squirrel, so I’ll leave it alone now

The picture below, printed on a man’s, silk juban kimono, shows geisha building snowmen. Notice the extremely high geta they have on their feet, to raise them out of the snow.


A happy New Year to you all.

Japanese Geisha Doll –

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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I took some photos of a Japanese geisha doll I own, to show here. This is my own doll, not one for sale on my vintage kimono site.

Her face, hands and feet are wood that is covered in gofun, which is powdered oyster shells. Gofun gives a finish rather like porcelain. Her dark brown eyes are glass. She is in the midst of a dance, one of the arts of a geisha. Geisha actually means artist and they learn many arts, including dance, musicianship and the art of conversation.

Her hair is real, though probably yak hair, which grows long enough to make an excellent facsimile of human hair. Real maiko and geisha suffer greatly for their hair; to achieve the styles they traditionally wear, it has to be waxed, then combed painfully into shape, swept back from their faces. Many geisha eventually develop a bald spot because the hair is pulled back so tightly in the centre and fastened like that. Rather than be upset by this, they tend to be proud of it, as it is a mark of a geisha. To maintain the hairstyle, they must sleep using a takamakura; a tiny neck pillow raised on a support, keeping the head above the bed, so the hair does not get messed up during sleep. While maiko must have their own hair styled, many opt for the use of wigs after they become geisha. The hair has to be restyled every five days or so and they cannot wash it.

The doll’s hair has 3 kougai (hairpins) and other kanzashi (hair ornaments), like the traditional, large comb in the centre

Her parasol is bamboo, covered in the finest, sheer silk and does actually open. Her little feet have gofun tabi socks. Shoes are not usually worn indoors in Japan, particularly in the tea houses where geisha are hostesses

The kimono is silk, with a yuzen (hand applied) artwork on it and a thickly padded hem, designed to trail on the ground. A padded hem makes a trailing kimono always lie nicely on the ground, when dancing the geisha moves the hem around with little, elegant flicks of her feet.

The neck of her kimono is pulled low at the back. Kimonos are worn with the neck pulled down at the back and the younger the wearer, the further down it is worn. Geisha and maiko wear it lower than the average person. The neck is considered very sensuous and sexy in Japan, so revealing the neck and emphasising it with white make up is considered very attractive. It is pretty much the equivalent of showing cleavage here in the West.

The obi is deep at the front, with the usual obiage around the top of the sash (you can see part of the red obiage threaded through the top of the obi’s rear knot) and a russet obijime, which is a cord tied around the centre of the obi sash (also threaded through the rear knot, it is visible at the front of the obi in the last photo). The obi knot is tied asymmetrically, though strictly speaking, it is not really tied, it is folded into shape with the obiage and obijime holding it in place

The kimono is a lovely grey colour but, as can be seen in the photo below, was originally blue. The dyes used in old blue silks (and many purples) seem to fade faster than any other colour but I particularly like the grey shade it has faded to over the years. It was already grey when I bought it. I used to have more dolls but, with my collection of Japanese items getting out of hand, I decided to keep only this one.


Traditional Japanese Footwear

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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Traditional Japanese Footwear

Traditional Japanese footwear tends to have thong toes, like modern day flip-flops. The thong part is called the hanao and can usually be replaced if it is damaged or a change is wanted. The thong between the toe is believed to press on acupressure points, aiding the body.

This kind of footwear could be easily made using nothing more than woven and twisted reeds, the woven reeds providing a sole, the twisted reed providing the string for the hanao or to simply tie the sole onto the foot. While wafuku (traditional Japanese clothing) can be very complicated and time consuming to put on, the fastening of it is done with just simple ties, although the different and very specific knots used for each tie can be somewhat complex. This simplicity meant almost anyone could make themselves simple footwear. You can see a pair of tatami, waraji sandals below.

Waraji tatami sandals
waraji, straw footwear

The traditional footwear worn with kimonos is, for women, geta or zori. The spelling of zori varies a lot, you may see it as zouri or zoori.
Geta are wooden soled shoes, with solid platforms or with little stilts, called ha (teeth), on the bottom of the soles; they can be found with one, two or three teeth, the most usual being two. Paulownia wood is popular for geta. They are still worn nowadays and tend not to be too terribly high now, though, in the past their height was often much greater. The design of geta is a practical one; they keep the wearer’s expensive kimono from touching the ground and becoming dirty or damaged. Very high toothed geta were used in winter to keep the kimono off the snow.

The wooden bases are sometimes ornately decorated. The images below show you a very plain vintage pair, a vintage pair of lacquered wood geta, an antique pair and a pair of ama geta, with toe covers, to keep the toes dry in rain.

Plain wood geta

Lacquered wood geta

Antique geta

Ama geta, with removable toe covers, for rainwear

Snow geta – the wooden teeth on the sole raise the kimono off the snow and the spikes give grip, like crampons.

Koi Antique Geta

Geta based beauties by Kenzo

Children’s Ashiato (footprints) Geta

The prints are cat, tyrannosaurus, gecko, monkey and owl.

Names of geta types

Oiran’s Koma geta. Also known as mitsu-ashi (three legs)

Oiran were high-ranking courtesans and prostitutes of the feudal period, considered a type of yujo (woman of pleasure), and they wore this tall, lacquered footwear called koma-geta (or mitsu-ashi – three legs). Unlike geisha and maiko, who only entertain by conversation, singing, musicianship and dancing, oiran were the hierarchy of prostitutes and courtesans in the pleasure quarters in Japan, of whom tayuu were the highest ranking oiran and considered suitable for the daimyo, who were the powerful territorial lords. Only the very wealthiest and highest ranking daimyo could ever hope to patronise tayuu.
Whereas geisha and maiko wear tabi socks, the oiran preferred not to do so, even in winter, and their toes could be seen poking out, under many layers of kimono, while wearing these tall geta. These ultra tall (about 25.5cm), three toothed geta helped differentiate oiran from geisha and maiko. Oiran became highly ritualised in many ways and, ultimately, the culture of the tayu grew increasingly rarefied and remote from everyday life and their clients dwindled. The last recorded oiran was in 1761. Their art and fashions often set trends among the wealthy and, because of this, cultural aspects of oiran traditions continue to be preserved to this day. The few remaining women still currently practicing the arts of the oiran (now without the sexual aspect) do so as a preservation of cultural heritage rather than as a profession or lifestyle.

Maiko okobo

Maiko (apprentice geisha) wear specific geta called okobo pokkuri; as you can see above. These geta increase the maiko’s height and ensure she walks in small, delicate steps, as everyone in a kimono is meant to, not in long strides. As soon as one is dressed in a kimono, obi and geta or zori, one almost automatically walks in little steps.
These geta are sometimes called pokkuri or koppori; both words are onomatopoeia, that is they represent the sound of walking in them.
Pokkuri and Koppori are usually very ornate and worn by young girls on shichi-go-san (7-5-3) which is a celebration at ages 7, 5, and 3. Maiko’s okobo, however, are generally quite plain, made of unfinished wood. The colour of the straps indicates the rank or experience of the maiko, starting off with red hanao and ending their maiko days with yellow, shortly before becoming full Geisha. Geisha don’t wear okobo, they wear either standard geta or zori. Maiko footwear is exceedingly expensive and somewhat hard to find.

Senryou geta

Generally most Japanese people call this style of geta, with the slant-cut front on the underside, senryou-geta. The reason they are called this is that in the 37th year of Meiji (1904) the Russo-Japanese War started and was won by Japan. The Japanese Army then began to occupy many countries on the continent of Asia. In those days, this style of geta, with the slant-cut front on the underside, was very popular in Tokyo. Someone named this style of geta, Senryou, or Senryou-geta because of the patriotic feeling of that time. One meaning of the word Senryou is “occupation”. This meaning was depicted by one particular kanji (Japanese text symbol) but many people felt that this use was very harsh and direct and that it showed an attitude that was not welcome, so, in order to keep the word but soften it, a different kanji began to be used. This different kanji had the same sound “Senryou” but its roots were very different. This new kanji became a lucky word and is still used today. Now the word Senryou means sen = 1000 and ryou = a currency unit from the Tokugawa Period (1603-1867).  This high amount of money was considered large and lucky, so senryou-geta started out as meaning “occupation geta”, then, while it kept the same name, the meaning changed to that of being a “very lucky geta” or “great geta”.

Menkoi geta (cute geta)

Round backed heel geta with the slant-cut front on the underside. Many years ago during a time in Japan when foreign shoe styles were becoming popular, Mr. Kunitaro was anxious about the future of the Japanese traditional shoe, geta. He made many different styles of geta from his own ideas and his own work. One such geta he displayed in his shop’s window and it became very popular with customers. They said it was a very cute and pretty style. That style was named “menkoi-geta”. The word “menkoi” is part of the dialect of Northern Honshu and means the same as “kawaii” which is Japanese for “cute” or “pretty”. Your children would enjoy these geta. They have been worn by Japanese people since old times. Mr. Kunitaro Yoshida, the originator of the menkoi-geta, owned the Geta Shop called “Yoshikuni’s” in Iwate. Yoshikuni is the predecessor of the present Akai-hanao-no-jojo.

Tenga geta

Tenga geta are one tooth geta. The tooth is replaced when it wears down. Also referred to as ipponba (one tooth) geta. The single tooth is usually around 5 inches high


Ashida geta have two teeth, the height of which can be short or tall. The most common ashida geta are only about two inches high. These are good for everyday wear in fair weather or light rain but, in the rainy season, puddles on the unpaved edo era streets were often deep, so deeper puddles called for higher geta, and the geta-makers (and their geta), rose to the challenge. They made geta with tall teeth; gakusei ashida geta,  and ones with tall thin teeth, called takai geta (sometimes takageta), as the thin teeth keep splashing to a minimum. The tall ones are also sometimes called sushi geta because they are reported to be worn by sushi makers in restaurants where the arrangement of a sushi bar requires some height and the scraps of raw fish tossed onto the floor instil a desire to not get too close to the ground.


Gakusei-ashida means ‘high geta for students’ and they have thick, high teeth. These are also popular with Bankara students and high school male cheerleaders. Bankara students wear an all black school uniform full of patches and gakusei geta. This is traditional Japanese student-style. They have a lot of guts and stick to their principles.

Bankara students

Onna-kuronuri-hutatuba geta

Onna-kuronuri-hutatuba geta means ‘ladies’ two teeth black geta’.

Pokkuri geta

Pokkuri are worn by little girls and by maiko. They are also called okobo. See the maiko okobo section below for more information.

Itaura geta

The insole is rice straw matting. These geta looks a little like  centipedes. The Japanese seldom wear these geta. Usually they are were worn at an ironworks or in a ship’s engine room to protect feet from iron scraps or engine oil.

High heeled geta

Geta do not usually have a right or left foot, the toe post is in the centre and the outer side of the foot slightly overhangs the sole. Recently, however, a popular Japanese women’s geta design has the toe hole not in the middle but offset, so that the geta have a definite left and right foot. These are influenced by modern shoes. These geta’s characteristics are narrower for women and made with a clear foot shape. The traditional geta are very square but these new geta are more fashionable.

Geta reeno

Another high heeled geta but less extreme than the ones above.

Ukon geta

Ukon geta are women’s geta and are easier to wear than those with the high teeth. They can also be purchased with much squarer toes than those shown above, The ones in the picture are geta_ukon_kuro_onna, meaning, ukon geta in black (kuro) for women (onna).

Ukon Shiraki

In the picture above, you can see men’s ukon geta. Usually worn with casual yukata kimonos.

Geta parts

How to wear geta


Most women wear zori with kimono. Zori are thong toed, usually wedge soled, though sometimes flat shoes. You soetimes see zori spelled zoori or zouri. The thong toe on Japanese footwear is always attached at the front centre of the sole and worn with the big toe to one side and the rest of the toes to the other. Western world flip-flops usually have the thong toe offset to one side, to allow the sole of the foot to lie centrally on the shoe sole but not so with Japanese ones (although the offset toe post is actually now just beginning to creep into a few contemporary designs of zori but, generally, the central post remains standard). Because the thong is central, the outer side of the foot often overhangs the side of the sole a little, as can be seen in the photos with maiko okobo, above, and the pair of black zori at the top of this blog entry. The heel often overhangs the back of the sole a little too.

The images below show pairs of zori: one silk brocade covered pair, with matching clutch bag, one with beaded soles and thongs (hanao) and one pair of rain zori, designed to keep the feet dry. The black shoes shown at the top of this footwear blog post show zori worn with tabi socks.

Brocade covered zori, with matching clutch bag

Beaded zori

Shigure zori
Covered toe zori are called shigure and are worn on cold or rainy days

Girls’ bunny zori
How cute are these?

Irregular Choice Zori
They tie at the ankles, with pompoms on the ties. That’s my daughter in the photos

It’s hard to make out in the photo below but those Irregular Choice zori have
a geisha holding a bangasa (Japanese parasol) on the bottom of each sole

Men’s Footwear

Men wear wooden geta, waraji and setta sandals, like the tatami waraji shown at the top of this blog post, or the footwear shown below. The white setta below are actually Buddhist monk’s sandals.

Men’s geta
Men's wooden geta shoes

Setta sandals

Ryu (dragon) and shogi (Japanese chess pieces) pattern men’s setta


Traditional, Japanese, reed snow boots.

Fukagutsu - Jap trad snow boots


With all this footwear, one wears tabi socks, designed to be worn with thong toes, unless wearing a casual, cotton yukata kimono, in which case one does not wear tabi.  Another  exception is the waraji sandals, often worn without tabi, especially by workers in rural areas. The older style of tabi is non-stretch, with kohaze fasteners, and the more contemporary style is stretchy and without fasteners. Shoes are removed when entering a Japanese home; one walks on their scrupulously clean floors in one’s tabi socks or a pair of indoor tatami sandals. You can see tabi being worn in the photo at the very top of this footwear blog post, with the black zori.

Tabi socks

You can also get knee high, stirrup stockings, called kyahan, to wear under tabi.

There is also other tabi toed footwear, such as jika-tabi, worn as outdoor tabi like ninja boots, worn  in some martial arts or just worn casually. They are a 20th century creation. The example below is a pair of canvas, rubber soled tabi boots, with kohaze fasteners. Nike also recently produced a range of tabi toed trainer shoes and boots, called Nike Rifts, to introduce the acupressure effects of tabi toes to the sports trainer.

Contemporary tabi boots

There are many other pairs of Japanese shoes on my website at and all sorts of other information about Japanese clothing and collectables


Make Your Own Geta

There’s a great site called Instructables, with tips about various things and instructions on how to make all sorts of stuff. One thing I found there was instructions for making a pair of geta. You can see the instructions here. Perhaps you could make your own ashiato geta, like the children’s cute  ones shown further up this post, with whatever footprint you choose in place of the two ha (teeth).


Mon and Kamon – Japanese Crests – Japanese Kimonos

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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Japanese Mon & Kamon

Mon means crest and kamon means family crest. The origin of the Japanese family mon goes back to the eleventh century. Each of the high ranking officers of the day began using a specific textile designs on their most formal wear, to be worn at the Imperial Court by all courtiers. Then they started having them on their carriages as well. The designs steadily became more refined and elegant. These emblems later became the formal mon (crests) we know now and were always put on formal garments.

When the Heian period ended and the samurai warrior class took over the government, at the end of the twelfth century, the warriors used their own emblems on their banners, flags, weapons and hanging screens to identify their camps and headquarters in the time of war. The warriors, who recognized that they were less cultured than the nobles, copied with admiration what the courtiers did

When the roll of fabric is dyed for a kimono that will have mon on it, discs of fabric are masked with rice paste, to be left undyed and white, the mon design (chosen by the person having the kimono made) is then stencilled onto the white disc. There is always a seam at the centre back of the kimono, so the roll of kimono fabric has half circles left in the correct place at the edges so that, when sewn together, it forms a disc for the mon at the centre back. Kimono fabric is produced in rolls (bolts) and every roll for a man’s kimono is exactly the same size, every roll of women’s kimono silk is the same size (and longer than for a man’s one), every roll of haori silk is the same size etc., so any pattern or mon disc on the garment is printed or masked out on the roll at exactly the right place for when it is cut out. This is why these garments vary very little in size; any slight variation in size is due only to the amount of seam allowance when sewn. They have no darts or other shaping of any kind, everything is rectangular.

A mon makes a garment a formal one, suitable for formal occasions. It can have one, three or five mon; the more mon it has, the more formal the occasion it is deemed suitable for. Garments with mon are divded into three types: itsutsu mon (5 mon), mitsu mon (3 mon) and hitotsu mon (1 mon).

There are different styles of mon too. In the picture below, showing three variations of icho (ginko) mon, you can see three versions of a the mon: hinata – full sun (left), kage – shadow (middle), and nakakage – mid shadow (right). The more subtle versions are for slightly less formal occasions. There are also embroidered mon, called nui mon.

A family may choose a mon that is associated with their family (a family mon is called a kamon) or just opt for one they like instead. They are seen on all sorts of items in Japan: clothing, signs, boxes, ceramics, banners etc.

Women are not obliged to adopt their husbands’ family mon, they may wear their maiden mons, called onna mon. Below you can see mon on two silk, women’s tomesode kimonos; one kimono with an oil painting of mountains and one with an embroidered winter scene.

There are hundreds symbols used in mon and many variations of each. Some popular emblems are sasa (bamboo) leaves, yotsume (4 eyes, a mon of four diamond shapes), tsuta (ivy), kiri (paulownia), tachibana (citrus/mandarin), ageha (butterfly), ume (plum blossom), katabami (wood sorrel/oxalis/clover), mokku (gourd), papaya slice, hanabishi (diamond flower), sensu (folding fans), tsuru (cranes), fuji (wisteria) and myouga (Japanese ginger).

Over the centuries many new mon emblems have been developed and many variations designed of old ones

The most frequently seen (by me, at least, and I have seen thousands of kimonos) are ivy, plum blossom, ginger, butterfly and, especially, paulownia. You can see a paulownia mon on pink in a photo above and, below, some information about paulownia in Japanese mythology.

The mon in the picture below is an interesting one; it is a Japanese mafia mon, worn at induction ceremonies.


Kiri (paulownia): A deciduous tree, native to eastern Asia. In Japanese myths it is said to have the only branches phoenix will land on. It is very popular in traditional Japanese art, particularly textile art where it is often seen on beautiful women’s kimonos and a very popular mon (crest) motif. It is also the flower symbol of is the Office of the Prime Minister of Japan. Paulownia is also known as foxglove tree and princess tree.

An exquisite, antique, itsutsu mon tomesode kimono, with hand applied textile art showing treasure ship festival floats and busy people


A hitotsu mon

Men’s Japanese Kimono Outfit

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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The full, formal, men’s wafuku outfit can be seen below. The full length kimono is worn tucked inside the hakama. Over the top, he wears a haori kimono jacket. Haori are fastened with a haori himo, which is hooked onto the inner edges of the haori. Men’s himo should not be untied, as they are very complex to re-tie, one simply unhooks the himo at one side to open the jacket. A himo is not essential for more casual wear of a haori kimono jacket. Himo are bought separately and moved from one haori to another. The white one in the picture is a very formal himo; for more casual wear, one would wear a smaller, simpler one, usually of a more muted colour.

One of the main differences between men’s and women’s kimonos is the sleeves. The sleeves of women’s are unattached from the body for over half their depth and are open at the inner edge, not sewn closed, whereas men’s kimono sleeves are attached either all the way down or with just an inch or so unattached at the body edge. Women’s sleeves have to be free from the body for a greater depth because they wear such a deep obi and the sleeve must not get in the way of it, so the sleeve hangs free of the body for much of its depth. Men’s obis are relatively narrow, so the deep sleeves can be attached much further down the body.

Another notable difference between men’s and women’s kimonos is the length; women’s kimonos are extra long, as they are worn with a large, length adjusting fold-over at the waist, held in place with a koshi himo tie, whereas men’s kimonos are worn without the length adjusting fold at the waist.

Setta sandals have thong toes and are worn with tabi socks.

Men’s kimonos are not always worn with hakama and haori, the picture above shows the full outfit for formal occasions. The kimono, worn underneath the hakama and haori, is held closed with a kaku obi, which is also used to help keep the hakama up.

Mens’ kimonos are usually very subdued in pattern and colour, although their under kimonos (jubans) and haori linings are often striking but the outerwear kimonos are usually muted in colour and design. The reason men no longer wear very brightly coloured and very decoratively patterned outer kimonos is that, way back, rich merchants started wearing extremely ornate, expensive kimonos, often more expensive and fancy than nobles or those of the samurai class could afford, so a law was passed stating that only nobles and samurai class could wear fancy outer kimonos, all other men had to wear only muted ones (unless worn for theatrical purposes such as dance performance or weddings etc). They took to putting wonderful textile art on their juban underwear kimonos and on haori kimono jacket linings, which became known as hidden beauty, since it didn’t show on the outside, and the merchant classes and commoners started to feel superior about that, it seemed more classy than the ostentatious garments of garish, vivid colours and numerous fancy brocades that the nobles and samurai class continued to wear.

Here’s a link to How to put on a man’s haori and attach and tie a man’s haori himo. Women’s himo are tied differently, you can see how to tie a woman’s haori himo here