Geta are a form of traditional Japanese footwear that resemble both clogs and flip-flops. They are a kind of sandal with an elevated wooden base held onto the foot with a fabric thong to keep the foot well above the ground. They are worn with traditional Japanese clothing such as kimono or yukata, but also with Western clothing during the summer months in Japan. Sometimes geta are worn in rain or snow to keep the feet dry, due to their extra height and impermeability compared to other shoes such as zouri.
There are several different styles of geta. The most familiar style in the West consists of an unfinished wooden board called a "dai" (stand) that the foot is set upon, with a cloth "hanao" (thong) that passes between the big toe and second toe. As geta are usually worn only with yukata or other informal Japanese clothes or Western clothes, there is no need to wear socks. Ordinary people wear at least slightly more formal zouri when wearing special toe socks called tabi. Apprentice geisha, also called "maiko", wear their special geta with tabi to accommodate the hanao.
The two supporting pieces below the base board, called "ha" (teeth), are also made of wood, usually very light-weight kiri (paulownia) and make a distinctive "clacking" sound while walking: karankoron. This is sometimes mentioned as one of the sounds that older Japanese miss most in modern life.
The dai may vary in shape: oval ("more feminine") to rectangular ("more masculine") and color (natural, lacquered, or stained). The ha may also vary in style; for example, tengu-geta have only a single centered "tooth". There are also less common geta with three teeth. Merchants used very high geta (two long teeth) to keep the feet well above the seafood scraps on the floor. The teeth are usually not separate, instead, the geta is carved from one block of wood. The tengu tooth is, however, strengthened by a special attachment. The teeth of any geta may have harder wood drilled into the bottom to avoid splitting, and the soles of the teeth may have rubber soles glued onto them.
The hanao can be wide and padded, or narrow and hard, and it can be made with many sorts of fabric. Printed cotton with traditional Japanese motifs is popular, but there are also geta with vinyl and leather hanao. Inside the hanao is a cord that is knotted in a special way to the three holes of the dai. In the wide hanao there is some padding as well. The hanao are replaceable. It sits between the two first toes because having the thong of rectangular geta anywhere but the middle would result in the inner back corners of the geta colliding when walking. Recently, as Western shoes have become more popular, more Western looking geta have been developed. They are more round in shape, may have an ergonomically shaped dai, a thick heel as in Western clogs, instead of separate teeth, and the thong at the side as in flip-flops. According to Japanese superstition, breaking the thong on one's geta is considered very unlucky.