Traditional Footwear from East Asia

What are the examples of traditional footwear from East Asia?

1.  Japan: The country is home to traditional footwear like the geta and zori sandals, and fukagutsu boots.

2.  China: Over its long history, China has had numerous variants of sandals and shoes made out of materials like leather, cloth, wood, and even jade.

3.  Korea: Traditional footwear is classified into two categories – the Hwa (over the ankle shoes) and the Hye (shoes not covering the ankle).


Asia is known as a continent that has a rich history and culture since it is the home of some of the world’s oldest civilizations and the largest empires. The continent’s cultural heritage can be seen in many aspects such as music, art, cuisine, clothing, and even footwear like step-in slippers. There are many different forms of footwear that are present in Asia, and all of them are an important element to their fashion, along with their tradition and beliefs. Fine examples of this footwear are from East Asia, where countries like Japan, China, and South Korea have their own unique variants of footwear. Some of these forms of footwear have stood the test of time since they still remain important at this day and age. Here are some of the well-known traditional footwear from the East Asian region.





The Land of the Rising Sun is home to traditional footwear like the geta, zori, and the fukagutsu. The geta is one of the most common types of traditional footwear in the country and remains as one of the most popular styles of footwear. The geta is a sandal made out of wood and straw. The design of the geta varies greatly, with some styles tailor made for people of high status and nobility. Some of the designs are intricate with some having jewelry and even lacquered wood, which gives it some shine. The geta, along with other Japanese shoes are usually worn with tabi socks.

The zori are shoes that are commonly worn by women wearing kimonos. These are thong toed and wedge soled shoes that are also known for having many different styles. Both the geta and the zori are shoes that are still being manufactured today, with more and more new styles being introduced each year. Lastly, the fukagutsu are snow boots made out of reed that protect the feet from the cold snow. With Japan’s rich history, their tradition will always remain a big part of their culture.





Being one of the oldest continuous civilizations in the world, China has one of the richest cultures and deepest histories. Given that fact, their history of traditional footwear is diverse as well. Some of the earliest forms of Chinese footwear were made out of fur from the animals they hunted, along with some straw to bind it on the feet. Later on, various kinds of shoes, sandals, and slippers will be made.

Most traditional shoes and sandals made in China are made out of cloth, leather, and wood, and are known for their intricate designs. In some cases, some shoes are made out of clay, metal, and jade, though most of these shoes are for decorative purposes only. One of the most common kinds of traditional Chinese shoes is embroidered flats, which are still one of the most common types of shoes worn in the country. While China has been adapting modern styles of footwear over the past few years, traditional footwear remains abundant among their population.



South Korea

South Korea

Being a country influenced by the culture of China and Japan, Korea shares some elements of their culture from both civilizations. The country has their own versions of traditional shoes and sandals. There are two classifications of traditional Korean footwear – the Hwa (over the ankle shoes) and the Hye (shoes that do not cover the ankle). Common types of Hwa footwear are boots and shoes that are suitable for extreme conditions. Meanwhile, popular types of Hye footwear are flats, which have colorful and embroidered designs similar to the ones from China.

Like China and Japan, South Korea has been adapting more modern styles of footwear, but traditional forms of footwear remain an important part of their culture.


Key Takeaway

East Asia is one of the most culturally diverse areas in the world and their traditions run deep within their countries. While footwear would always see numerous changes and innovations as the years go by, traditional footwear would always have its place in history.


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