The 62th feature exhibition

Footwear:zori (sandals) and geta (clogs)
Dec 6 (Tue), 2016 – March 5 (Sun), 2017

This museum exhibits ukiyo-e prints and paintings produced in Osaka in the Edo period. Many of the ukiyo-e paintings made in Osaka were portraits of actors in a kabuki play performed in theatres in Dotombori area.

In the Edo period, there were rules for clothing according to the social class one belongs, and the actor’s costume and make-up in a kabuki play was also different by his role. Actors wore the costume and wig fit for the role, whether it’s samurai warrior or townsman, married or not married, portraits show us the fashion and design that were popular at the time.

In this feature exhibition we focus on footwear of kabuki actors. In addition to zori (sandals) and geta (clogs) that still continue to be used today, we also exhibit ukiyo-e of kabuki plays whose story are deeply related to footwear. Please enjoy footwear styles in those days in ukiyo-e.info62
Title of the play: Keisei Shinasadame
Drawn by Rosetsu
Portrait of actor Arashi Kitsusaburo II, in the role of Nagoya Sanza

Zori (sandals)
Zori is a Japanese sandal with straw straps attached on a flat sole made of straw or bamboo peel. It has been used from as old time as the Heian period. Zori and waraji (made of straw and fit for long walk) continued to be frequently used in the samurai warriors’ society after the Kamakura period. A new style of zori called ashinaka was invented for the battlefield because waraji was too soft to protect the warrior’s front half of foot from being hurt by solid materials like small stones in the field in a battle.

Being long and thin, zori was not suitable to walk on damp ground, so people often used geta instead on rainy or snowy days in the Edo period. They invented layered zori and because of its thick sole and richness it became to be used as ceremonial footwear. Townspeople wore three-ply zori and courtesans wore five- or seven-ply zori. Mutli-ply zori are also drawn in ukiyo-e.

Setta, which is considered to be invented by Senno Rikyu, is zori with leather attached underneath the straw sole. It was seen to be stylish to make ticking sound as you walk in seta with rivets at heel.

Mini column – “Kagamiyama” kabuki and zori
Each daimyo (a feudal lord) had its “oku” (interior) and that of Shogun’s was called “o-oku” (great interior). In addition to daimyo’s wife and concuines, many women lived in “oku” including otoshiyori (senior lady-in-waiting) and churo (middle lady-in-waiting) who served directly daimyo and his wife, and women who worked under otoshiyori and churo.

In Keisei Kagamiyama, otoshiyori Iwafuji didn’t like churo Onoe because the mistress trusted Onoe. Jealous Iwafuji tried to embarrass Onoe. Onoe had been keeping the master’s family treasure Ranjatai, a piece of aloeswood, and Iwafuji stole it and replaced with her zori. Then Iwafuji argued that Onoe tried to blame Iwafuji for the theft. Iwafuji beat Onoe with that zori as she accused her wrongdoing. Onoe committed suicide because she couldn’t live with the shame and her servant Ohatsu revenged it.

Kyahan and waraji
Waraji is often mistaken for zori. These two footwears are different as the latter has only thongs called hanao but the former also has kaeshi (a part to protect one’s heel) and chi (holes to put strings through). Waraji is considered to exist from the ancient Nara period, mainly used for labor and long walk.

In ukiyo-e, waraji is often depicted with kyahan (cloth leggings) and tekko (hand cover). The three of these are travel clothing. Leg protecter kyahan’s colour in ukiyo-e is mostly navy, but white for monks and pilgrims and red and rose pink for beautiful boys.

Geta is made of solid woodboard (as a sole) with two blocks (teeth) of wood underneath and thongs on top. It is considered to be invented as a farming tool, tageta (geta for rice field), and in the Heian period, ashida (which is taller) was widely used. Ushiwakamaru wore ashida when he fought Benkei on Gojo Bridge. Its teeth are shaped like a Ginkgo leaf.

Geta was improved in the Edo period when at first yamageta became popular which was made from one single woodboard. After that hiyorigeta became widely used which was shorter than other type of geta. And then more variation of geta appeared like ones made of paulownia, lacquered ones, tatami-attached ones. There also appeared not only two-teeth geta but also black-lacquered three-teeth geta (keiseigeta) that were worn by courtesans when parading for their patrons. There was even one-tooth geta that Nakamura Utaemon III wore and danced.

Other than the types mentioned above, there were also shikangeta which was named after Nakamura Utaemon III, and hanshirogeta which was named after a kabuki actor. Geta was originally a footwear for rainy days and gradually became fashion item.

Mini column – Meiboku Sendaihagi and geta
Meiboku Sendaihagi is a kabuki play based on a real disturbance at the Date clan of Sendai domain. Tsunamune, feudal lord, was ordered by the shogun to retire after his life of debauchery. Kamechiyo, only two years old at the time, succeeded the position and this ignited the struggle for power among vassals.

The sound “Sendai” both means “the predecessor” and the name of the domain. “Hagi” was the name of the flower that Sendai was famous for. “Bamboo and sparrow” motif is on Yorikane’s kimono and the same motif is used for the Date clan’s emblem. Because Tokugawa shogunate prohibited the actual event from being dramatized, the drama was set to Ashikaga period, but the implication was clear.

And according to the episode that Tsunamune visited Takao, a courtesan, wearing geta made by aloeswood, this kabuki play is titled “Meiboku (aloeswood) Sendaihagi”. The level of Tsunamune’s debauchery seemed to be extraordinary as the rumour went that he wore geta made of expensive aloeswood.

Tabi was formerly called “tanpi”, made of leather with no separation between the big toe and other toes. In order to enable to wear thonged footwear like zori, tabi has been developed with a separation between the big toe and other toes. Cotton-made tabi began to be produced in the Edo period and not only ones with strings but also the ones with “kohaze” (metal attachment at the back) began to be produced.

Color of tabi is usually mainly white, both for male and female, but in a kabuki play, there are cases that a certain role wears a certain color, for example, a yakko (low-ranking footman) wears purple tabi, a monk wears yellow. Shorter tabi, in which one’s ankle is visible, is easier to move and the sign of chicness.