Onitsuka Tiger: Japan’s Legendary Footwear

Onitsuka Tiger: Japan’s Legendary Footwear

The prevalence of shoe companies in Japan is visible. One of these outstanding companies is called Onitsuka Tiger. It started with the founder’s hope of raising post-war youth’s self-esteem through sports. He believed they needed a healthier and more positive lifestyle with a new sense of community, optimism and awareness.

onitsuka tiger intro

How the Company Started

onitsuka tiger founder

Onitsuka Tiger is considered to be one of the oldest shoe companies in Japan. It was founded by Kihachiro Onitsuka who was a former military officer. The idea of forming the company started in Kobe. Kihachiro was eating his meal when he suddenly found a slice of octopus stuck at the bottom of the bowl. The struck him and he thought of making a kind of technology where shoes have a better grip on the ground. The result was the first basketball shoe that resembled a straw sandal in 1951. However, the design was discarded by many people and he soon added cups and small spaces in the soles of the shoes.

onitsuka tiger illustration

How the Company Flourished

onitsuka tiger shoe shop

Onitsuka’s company started small, but later on, he employed thousands of workers across the globe making 30 million pairs of shoes annually. No matter which sports (football, running, martial arts, basketball, cheerleading or volleyball) Onitsuka provides athletes with the finest equipment possible. To satisfy the growing demand, there was a need to set up a state of the art high-tech center in Kobe. Many more pioneering innovations followed. All met the criteria of the impact guiding system -where a raw egg was dropped from a height of 15 meters onto a gel pad. In later years, Onitsuka merged with GTO and JELENK to form ASICS Corporation. Despite the name change, many of the vintage ASICS shoes are still sold under the Onitsuka Tiger label internationally.

From a small idea, Onitsuka Tiger grew larger, becoming an international success. Mr. Onitsuka’s original dream certainly came true.

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