The final round of "Shoeshine Championship 2023," the first competition in about three years to determine the top shoeshiner, was held last week on November 18 at Ginza Mitsukoshi. A total of 64 people from all over Japan competed in the first rounds in Osaka in September and Tokyo in October, and the 12 survivors will compete in the final round. Here is a report on the competition.
The competition was fierce, as the contestants studied shoe polishing over the course of the three-month period, creating new methods of polishing shoes that had never been seen before and adding new processes that had never been used before.
The winner of the toughest competition to date was Takashi Araida, manager of Brift H Aoyama, who took home the crown. After two consecutive third-place finishes in the previous two competitions, Araida was crowned the champion after a period of perseverance.
I'm glad I didn't give up," he said tearfully in the winner's interview.
It was a moment when the great pressure from the people around him turned into courage and strength, and his efforts to keep challenging without giving up bore fruit.
In the finals, as he said he had changed his shoe polishing method completely, he mixed wax with cleaner and polished to a mirror-like finish, breaking the stereotype of aggressive shoe polishing.
Second place went to Dratewka's Mr. Ka-Meijin Orimo. Third place went to Keiichiro Kumada of Kumada Shoe Store. Mr. Orimo's weight-trained muscles and twice as fast polishing speed were impressive. He also has a strong torso, so he has an unshakable style. Ms. Kumada's bright and cute personality was perfectly suited to the shoes, and her gentle polishing was very impressive.
The competition ended with a great excitement of the audience who came to the venue, as each of the contestants, who unfortunately lost in the semi-finals, showed off their wonderful shoe polishing skills.
Yasuo Ogawa (Individual)
Junhiro Yoshitomi (Boston & Re olds)
Masanobu Kashiwa (PLSB)
Kenji Yamagishi (Individual)
Peco Nishioka (MIGAKI Zasshi)
Haruki Abe (BURIE)
Yuta Ohira (Chett)
Kaiji Shinjo (FANS Shinbashi)
Keiichiro Kumada (Kumada Shoe Store)
Tomokazu Kishima (Kutsubigaku)
Kanajin Orimo (Dratewka)
Takashi Araida (Brift H Aoyama)
Go Ishimi (Champion of the 1st Japan Shoeshine Championship, TWTG representative)
Ryo Totani (Champion of the 2019 Shoeshine Championship in the coloring category)
Nobuaki Fujisawa (President of Floriwone)
Yuya Hasegawa (Founder of Shoeshine Championship)
The presentation judging was introduced for this year's shoeshine competition to judge not only technique, but also fashion and individuality. The finalists are two of the most respected figures who have had a great influence on the development of Japanese leather shoe culture, and they have elevated the level of this competition.
Yasuto Kamoshita (Fashion Director)
Kentaro Matsuo (Editor in Chief of The Rake Japan)
The competition was always fun and easy to watch even for those who are not familiar with shoeshine, thanks to the two MCs, Mr. Kota Tashiro, who has been in charge of the competition as a general producer since the first competition, and Mr. Takahiro Iino, who has the best knowledge in the shoe industry as a famous commentator.
Lastly, we would like to thank the many sponsors for their generous support, the enthusiastic volunteers for their help, and the many fans who filled the venue and gave us their courage to make this event a great success.
We will continue to hold the shoeshine championship in 2024 to further develop and promote the culture of shoeshine, and we hope that many people will experience the passion of shoeshiners for shoeshine.
Japan is without a doubt the world's leading shoeshine country. We will continue to make the world's feet revolutionize with our motto, "Revolutionize the world's feet! We will continue to promote the event under the motto of "Revolutionize the world's feet!
Yuya Hasegawa, promoter of the event