Translation: shoe box under, or, shoe cabinet, or tansu. Usually located near the entryway or porch of the house. In Japan, it is uncouth to wear your outside footwear inside, so a getabko allows the user to change from outside footwear to slippers quickly.
The Getabako is deeply rooted in the Japanese traditions where it is offensive to wear your outer footwear in a home, place to eat, place of worship, or place of cleansing. It’s small and compact, and usually underneath or built into the home. The Getabako would be about 12″ deep and about 8″ high, just enough to slip footwear in and out of, and I’m pretty sure you have all seen one when you go to the authentic Japanese restaurant down the street (I like Zakushi myself, just sayin’.) But the Getabako is more than just a tradition, there is a reason and a logic behind it’s presence in this world.
The Japanese Onsen, or Sento, is a public bathing house that is also deeply rooted in Japanese traditions. It originally stemmed from religious rights, but it actually made more logistical planning sense than we think. Plumbing and hot water was very rare, and the bath house, much like Turkish baths, provided one place where everyone would undress, do their business, clean their teeth, and cleanse their bodies. Onsen’s were well organized, paid for, and usually geothermal heated. Before you could go anywhere in the bath, you had to store your shoes. Ta-da! Getabako.
I’m at a bit of an advantage here, I’ll admit. I did a project way back in design school on the cleansing rituals in Japan, and you can click here to view the presentation.
So fast forward to today and here is a current application of the Getabako. But I will admit, I was lucky enough to be able to construct a platform with bench seating and some custom upholstery in Robert Allen fabrics that will just look amazing when it’s all done.
Let’s get some choes. (Google “Kelly shoes” if you’re not in the know.)