Oiran were high-ranking courtesans of the feudal period in Japan who wore tall lacquered footwear or Koma-geta (or mitsu-ashi – three legs). Unlike geisha and maiko, who only entertained by conversation, singing and dancing, oiran and tayuu were the highest rank in the hierarchy of prostitution in the pleasure quarters. Whereas geisha and maiko wear tabi socks, the oiran and tayuu preferred not to do so (even in the winter) and their toes can be seen poking out under many layers of kimono while wearing these tall geta. A tiny hint of bare flesh must have been very appealing in the Edo period! These shoes were most likely worn to ensure there was no confusion between geisha, maiko and oiran / tayuu. However, an amazing skill of balance must have been required to walk with these geta with their 10″ platforms. One sometimes sees maiko hobbling along in Okobo, but the pace must have been even more arduous in these tall geta. This particular pair is most likely Taisho period (1912-1926) or early 20th century.

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    The teeth of the geta remind me of the shape of an incense burner from The Tales Of Genji think of the shape of a...