Have you ever heard of the "Shoeshine Championship," a competition to determine the best shoeshiner in the world? It is a very simple competition, but it is a wonderful competition full of quiet and passionate human drama.
It all started in 2018.
The previous year, the world shoeshine championship was held for the first time in London, and I (Hasegawa) was able to win the championship, and I thought that I would like to follow this trend in Japan. I first contacted Mr. Kota Tashiro, the producer of this tournament, from Narita Airport as soon as I returned to Japan.
He had worked as an assistant buyer of men's shoes for Isetan Mitsukoshi, and together we started preparing for the event in Japan.
The rules were based on the London competition, but the rules for the Japan competition were made more difficult because it was difficult to distinguish between the high level of finish of Japanese people using the rules of the London competition. Specifically, in London, it takes 20 minutes to polish one leg, but in Japan, it takes 20 minutes for both legs. This is simply double the amount of work. Conversely, in the qualifying rounds, the time is halved, as each leg is polished in 10 minutes.
In addition, in London, the tools that can be used are all Saphir products, but in Japan, we have allowed the athletes to choose freely from a large selection of tools so that they can decide which tool to use after seeing the shoes. This is because we believe that this will allow for more diversity in the shoe polishing process and a wider range of results.
The first Shoeshine Championship 2018 was held in a corner of the men's shoe department of Ginza Mitsukoshi. At first, we thought that we would not be able to gather that many people, so the event was held in a venue that was packed with 30 people, but when we opened the door, about 150 people showed up, and the men's shoe floor was in a state of chaos. All of our employees worked hard to keep the customers flowing.
From that legendary first event, the event was held three times in 2019 and 2020 before moving on to the Corona Disaster. After three years, the event was revived as "Shoeshine Championship 2023" this year. The sponsor organization has been moved from Isetan Mitsukoshi Ltd. to the Japan Leather Goods Maintenance Association, and with the cooperation of many sponsors, the event has been reborn as a more socially responsible event with a broader base. The competition has evolved into a more socially responsible event with a broader base.
The world's top shoeshine competition, in which a total of 64 competitors, a mixture of professionals and amateurs, compete to make the best of their skills. In September this year, the Osaka 1st Round was held at Umeda Hall in the Umeda Hankyu department store, and in October, the Tokyo 1st Round was held in the concourse in front of Hankyu Men's Tokyo.
The finalists who have advanced to the final round are as follows.
Yasuo Ogawa (Individual)
Sumihiro Yoshitomi (Bodston & Re Olds)
Masanobu Kashiwa (Penny Lane Shoe Shine Boys)
Kenji Yamagishi (Individual)
Peco Nishioka (MIGAKI THE HERITAGE, Polishiza Tsugu)
Haruki Abe (NINETY TWO, Burie)
Yuta Ohira (Chett)
Kaiji Shinjo (FANS SHINBASHI)
Keiichiro Kumada (Kumada Shoe Store)
Tomokazu Kijima (KUTSUBIGAKU)
Kanajin Orimo (Dratewka)
Takashi Araida (Brift H AOYAMA)
The semi-finals begin with 12 players, divided into 3 groups of 4, and the finals are held by the 3 first-place finishers. 3 years of vacancy has given birth to many new shoe-shine artisans throughout the country. Many of the finalists have become shoe polishers in the past few years, and the lineup has changed dramatically since the last competition.
This is largely due to the rising level of shoeshiners in the world and the change in shoeshine methods due to the evolution of shoeshine tools. In addition, the judging for this year's competition has been updated based on the experience of the previous three competitions.
The technical jury will judge the skills and the presentation jury will judge the attractiveness of the shoeshiners. Each jury consists of a team of judges to ensure fair judging.
Go Ishimi (1st Shoeshine Championship Champion)
Ryo Totani (Shoeshine Championship 2019 Coloring Division Champion)
Nobuaki Fujisawa (President of Floriwone)
Yuya Hasegawa (Initiator of Shoeshine Championship)
Riya Suzuki (Creative Director, former Red Wing Japan Representative)
Yuhi Ozaki (SUN \KAKKE Designer)
Kentaro Matsuo (Editor in Chief of THE RAKE JAPAN)
Yasuto Kamoshita (Fashion Director)
The opening ceremony will be held at 13:00 on November 18, and the event will end at 18:30, including the award ceremony. The venue is open to everyone, so please feel free to stop by if you are in Ginza.
If you have never seen shoeshine before, it may be difficult to imagine what shoeshine is like. Shoeshine is fun! It is a quiet yet very exciting competition that will surely make you feel "shoeshine is amazing!
Please come and experience the human drama through the excellence of craftsmanship through shoeshine!