New Series "Shoeshiner's Explorations". There are a lot of great shoe-shiners in the world! Here is the second part of "Shoeshiner's Explorations" featuring Tamon Hirahara, owner of the famous BLOOM shoelounge and shoeshiner in Niigata, who is well known for his hashtag "#Niigata Shoeshine Mania".
What do you think is the appeal of shoeshine?
I think the most attractive thing is simply the joy of having clean shoes.
For example, if you buy a new watch, you don't brag about it, but keep quiet until someone notices, and then you are happy when they notice. In the same way, if your shoes are shining, you can brag about it without saying a word. I think the satisfaction here is great for men. Moreover, shoeshine is easy to do and satisfies a man's desire.
It may sound a bit stiff to say that it increases one's self-esteem, but the fact that it makes you proud is the charm of shoeshine. Also, with the increase in the number of shoeshiners these days, it is fun to have your favorite shoeshiner polish your shoes.
What is your specialties in shoeshine?
They say "God is in the details," but I am particular about not cutting corners. I polish shoes carefully down to the last detail. I also place great importance on listening carefully to what the customer wants the shoes to look like.
I also use my experience as an apparel designer to determine what kind of situations the customer will wear the shoes in and what kind of clothes they will match with when polishing them. Also, it is important to know if the customer can take care of the shoes by themselves.
I think I have enjoyed serving customers since I was a bartender at school, and I enjoy making recommendations based on the customer's thoughts and feelings.
Are there any shoes or customers that have made a lasting impression on you?
Well, there are a few customers a year who come in to have their heirloom shoes polished, and they leave a lasting impression. Many of them keep the polished shoes instead of wearing them, but we polish them as beautifully as we can. We are so focused on polishing that we spend a lot of time on it without even realizing it. I feel like I am polishing them together with my various feelings.
And the customers who bring them to me are wonderful, aren't they? Many of them are sons, but the one that left the biggest impression on me was a woman who came to polish her husband's shoes that had passed away. She wanted to leave behind a proof that she had supported her family with those shoes. It is very moving, isn't it?
Lastly, what is your recommendation for Brift H products?
It would have to be THE CLEANER for MILLOR SHINE! Of course THE CREAM is good, but there are other good creams in the world. But Miracle is no different. All the professional shoe polishers in the world use it. And I recommend it to women because it can also be used for bag care!
Mr. Hirahara spoke passionately for an hour nonstop during our online interview. I thought he is a real gentleman's shoeshiner who carefully polishes shoes while taking into account the customer's wishes. If you read this, why don't you visit Mr. Hirahara at his store in Niigata?