Zori (16042894618).jpg
Men's zōri
Type Japanese sandal
Material rice straw, cloth, lacquered wood, leather, rubber or synthetic materials
Place of origin Japan

Zōri (草履) are flat and thonged Japanese sandals made of rice straw, cloth, lacquered wood, leather, rubber, or—most commonly and informally—synthetic materials.[1]

Similar in form, modern flip-flops became popular in the United States, Australia and New Zealand when soldiers returning from World War II brought Japanese zōri with them.


Like all Japanese sandals, zōri are easily slipped on and off,[1] which is important in Japan, where shoes are removed and put back on when entering and leaving a house, and where tying shoelaces would be impractical in traditional wear.

The traditional forms of zōri are seen when worn with other traditional clothing.[1] Modern forms are fairly common, however, with casual Western wear, especially in summer. While geta are now mostly worn with the informal yukata, traditional zōri are often worn with the more formal kimono.

Varieties and formalities

Both the gender of the wearer and the formality of the occasion affects the choice of zōri. Regardless of variety, zōri are almost always worn with tabi socks.

Women's zōri are seldom flat, save for straw imitation zōri resembling tatami mats. The soles come in different thicknesses and angles, and are typically covered by vinyl or fabric, though some modern varieties feature a hard black plastic sole with a non-slip base. In contrast, men's zōri almost always feature a flat sole.

Zōri with a woven bamboo or straw covering - referred to as tatami omote - are considered to be relatively formal zōri, even if the covering is only a vinyl imitation of a woven cover. Though most zōri with a tatami omote cover are considered to be menswear - known as setta - traditional women's footwear with a tatami omote cover also exist, though these are generally confined to the okobo variety of geta.

In contrast, zōri with a woven bulrush cover resembling a tatami mat are not worn with kimono, but are considered working wear or are sometimes matched with casual Western or Japanese clothing. These zōri more closely resemble a flat sandal with a woven base.

Vinyl or plastic zōri are next in formality. They are worn with formal clothing such as a semi-formal kimono. The most formal variety of zōri are only for women; they are brocade covered zōri that are used with the most formal of kimono, such as wedding and funeral wear.

The hanao, or thongs, are either white or black, depending on the occasion,[1] though colourful hanao with a variety of decorations do exist. The hanao are placed in the center of the zōri, with no difference between the left and right shoe. White hanao are worn with formal zōri, with black hanao considered to be informal.



The hanao of informal zōri can be made of a velour-like material, as in the case of zōri resembling tatami mats. The hanao of more formal colored vinyl zōri are either vinyl or fabric straps. The fabric is often either the fabric used for the shoe, or chirimen, crepe-like Japanese silk or rayon fabric. Men's zōri may also feature leather or leather imitation hanao.

Hanao can wear and stretch easily, occasionally requiring their replacement; in such instances, the hanao can be replaced by removing and replacing them through the use of small flaps in the soles concealing the knots that hold them in place. In other instances, however, the hanao can be entirely inaccessible, requiring the entire shoe to be replaced.



  1. ^ a b c d MATCHA. "Geta and Zōri - Japanese Encyclopedia". MATCHA - JAPAN TRAVEL WEB MAGAZINE. Retrieved 2020-03-12.

See also

  • Geta, traditional Japanese wooden sandals
  • Okobo, traditional Japanese wooden clogs
  • Tabi, traditional Japanese split-toed socks
  • Jika-tabi, traditional Japanese split-toed boots

External links