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All About Japanese Seta Sandals

Sunday, April 17, 2016 11:00 AM

All About Japanese Seta Sandals

History of Setta Sandals

The History of Setta Sandals

These sandal-type, traditional Japanese footwear first become popular in Japan in the 16th century. Flat, thinged sandals similar to zori but with a leather sole, they are said to hae first been conceived of by Sen no Rikyu (1522 - 1591), a medieval tea master. 

Before setta, zori and geta were the two common types of footwear. However, neither the zori nor geta are particularly well suited for tea ceremony. This is because a traditional teahouse usually has a small garden with a path leading to the tearoom. Before the start of the ceremony, the tea host sprinkles water along the path t purify it, and if one wears zori that are made of straw, the water might soak into the soles of the sandals. In addition, in winter, tea ceremony guests often enjoy viewing the garden lightly dusted with snow. If they wear geta, which are made of wood, their footsteps on the path mny mar the landscaoe with large footprints. 

By the end of the 18th century setta had become popular among the common people, and setta with their clicking sound were considered stylish. However, when European-style shoes were introduced into Japan gaining popularity during the 20th century, the demand for setta gradually decreased - as did the number of production centers.

Nowadays, the specialized skills of setta craftsmen have become more valued, and the setta made in Nara are attracting rising attention. In modern day Japan, Nara-made setta are worn not only by the successors of traditional culture such as kabuki actors and sumo wrestlers but also by ordinary people when they wear kimono om ceremonial occasions or at traditional festive events, The footwear is even being seen in modern Japanese fashion, with young people wearing setta with a casual t-shirt and jeans.

Construction of Seta

Setta sandals are handmade following a production process of three steps.

Production of Japanese Setta Sandals

Production of Setta Sandals

  How to Wear Japanese Setta Sandals

How to Wear Setta 

  • The way to wear setta is to allow yoru heel to slightly (1-3 cm) stick out over the setta heel.
  • When slipping into the setta, be sure not to twist the hanao. As the shape of setta is naturally molded by the first wearer, it is important to wear them properly from the very start. Once the hanao gets twisted it tends to do this again and again.
  • Setta are sensitive to water. If they get totally soaked in water, the sole and the hanao many be damaged and wear. be sure not to soak them in water. 

How to Wear Japanese Setta Sandals


A size smaller that your actual foot size is recommended. Bigger sizes should be avoided especially for those who are not used to wearing setta. This type of footwear is worn held to the foot only by a thong between the big toe and the second toe. If the sole is longer than your feet, your toes would have the burden of that weight or you would have to drag the sole on the ground with your toes. As your toes would have a heavier burden, this makes walking difficult. If you still liek to wear your actual foot-size setta or a larger one, avoid cow-leather soles and pick a lighter weight material.

How to Walk with Setta Sandals

How to Walk

Walk dragging your heel. This is teh basic style, but bbe careful not to flip-flop the setta, which is considered sloppy.

Straighten your back and shuffle your feet rhythmically and elegantly. If you drag your heel well enough, the shiragana metal wll make a fine clicking sound, and that is considered stylish.

If You Feel Pain

Until you are used to wearing settsm you may feel discomfort or even pain in your feet. If you feel pain, move your heels in and out the setta so that the angle that your skin is rubbing against the hanao changes, If your skin becomes raw, use a band-aid.

Major causes of pain can be:

  • If you are not used to wearing setta, your toe skin will be sensitive to the rubbing of the hanao at first. Once your skin is used to it, it will no longer hurt,
  • The hanao may not be softened enough yet. The hanao material will gradually become softer and fit to your feet unless it is made of a particular stiff material
  • Your setta may not be suitable for your feet. If the hanao is extremely tight or loose, it may not only hurt your skin, but also make you feel tired.

Health Benefits of Wearing Setta

  • Going barefoot or close to barefoot
  • Walking with your toes and heels
  • Stimulating the sole and toes
  • Spreading toes with hanao

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