Interestingly, the Japanese term for that culture's traditional wooden footwear, geta, is often translated into English as clog. You and I might not instantly recognize in these distinctive sandals the same things that we value and cherish in our favorite wood soled shoes of European origin, but I have to admit after culling through some of the options and styles Japanese importers make available, I was considering reaching for my pocketbook.
Japanese clogs have been worn by both women and men for countless years. Geisha are women well versed in Japanese arts and often entertain while dressed in an elaborate traditional wardrobe which includes geta (and other similar wooden shoes) for their feet. At the other end of the spectrum, male sumo wrestlers are required to wear geta while still in their beginner stages...primarily so that the clacking of the wood soles will announce to those around them their lowly status.
The shoes themselves come in a number of variations. A simple Google search can unearth pages of places to explore the variety available. For expediency, I'm presenting an assortment of images from the ZIpangu Treasures web site.
Most common is the geta style with two blocks of wood or teeth extending from the bottom of the sole.
More adventurous soles (and you can decide if that's a typo or not) may with to consider the single toothed tengu geta which reportedly is easy to walk in despite the precarious looking design. (Standing still, however, is a different matter.)
Then there are the okobo, basically a block of wood secured to the foot with the traditional two strap thong known as the hanao.
Not to be taken lightly, an okobo can be the work of a true craftsman. The 4-1/2" high pair pictured below are carved from a block of paulownia wood and padded on the footbed with finely woven strips of bamboo. Price without the hanao (which you must purchase separately) is $1500.00.
As you've seen this week, it's a big, wide, wonderful world of clog wearing possibilities out there. So many shoes, so little time! Now that 2009 is drawing to a close, I want to take a moment to wish you the best in the new year. May your travels take you exactly where you hope to go...wearing the shoes that make your dreams come true.