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■ Featuring "Ice Cream," August 31 to September 29







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O: In Japan, there are some crazy shoe-lovers who glance at the soles when they are buying although it changes out of friction within an hour. No care about those people, I have taken an English way. My students also have each strong preference.


■ Like “from the cradle to the grave,” after your death, the shoes you made will be…

O: It must be looked after because I have made a declaration that I will take every care. In Britain, I saw some old customers come to John Lobb with grandchildren and say “the predecessor is already gone, but now this artisan does instead.” Bespoke shoes’ spirit has come down. Moreover, always perfect is what the English craftsmen do. A wish of a customer knocks on their door, and they will welcome any time. Artisans get together for a conference and somehow make it come true. That price is set up by the manners.


■ Since they make the complete shoes without any compromise…

O: And lots of their cares. In bespoke shoes, they modify when he feels a pain on feet, they revise for leather damage, and they reform the lasts when he has got kind of overweight. Bespoke shoemakers always go with you like your family doctor, namely. They will so closely be with you for a long time after you get the pair of shoes, and it is often out of payment. And so the price exists… Some decorate a room with the used shoes they cannot wear anymore. It is nonsense, isn't it?


■ You mean it is seldom seen Japanese shoe wearers understand true spirit of bespoke shoes…?

O: But there is no help for it, isn’t there? You cannot obey somebody’s opinion when you are getting bespoke shoes, because your feet are clearly different from others. You can find your bespoke shoe maker only after your trial. Then, I know it is difficult and needs a long time to get used in Japan.


■ I see, ma’am. You have planned a project “The Shoe Fitters” with some of your disciples. That is for owners of readymade shoes…?

O: Yes. Many have podalic problems and have deformed their feet out of unfavorable shoes. Then, “The Shoe Fitters” explains them what kind of shoe wearing is bad and what sort of readymade shoes they had better put. I can find no value when somebody bought a pair of shoes for the design and wears no more because of suffering from a pain. So we are mending and explaining them the relationship between feet and shoes.


■ So Okawa Yukiko has not recently felt any routine that you felt in John Lobb?

O: Yes, I have. But it completely comes from nothing but me. It means I am responsible for everything related to me now. That is an irritant, you know, and I am not tired. There again, I think what I have done does not need to be in fashion. What goes up must come down, see? I want it to spread gradually taking even a century or two.


■ It spends a lot of time on rooting…

O: A skilled artisan is determined by not skill with the hands but empirical knowledge. Like “I did that at the time,” accumulation of experience changes your way to make shoes. The longer he worked as a shoe maker, the more he knows about shoe making nobody else knows. I believe so. And then, I would desire to be sharing that with my pupils as much as possible…


■ I know. Now, not just the past and the present, ma’am, I would like you to mention about your future a bit.

O: Our foot consists of 26 bones and each size is different. So you are pretty difficult finding your optimal shoes in the readymade. I have made the lasts for each bone although it is very rare. Lately, I have felt another possibility on boots whose points to hold and fasten are different from low shoes. Then if I can make up the number of lasts and design to a certain extent, I will be able to supply comfortable one at a lower price.


■ Well, universally it is kind of expensive, about 300,000 yen…

O: A pal of mine has told me “Make it more inexpensive!” for this decade. I suppose I will make it within next two or three years. To makers, 300,000 yen is low-priced enough. Truly working like dogs, we can hardly be brought a profit, you know. But I have understood it is pretty expensive to the payers. My next task is to solve that problem in these hard times. No reason to make unsatisfactory shoes, I need a little time more to keep the price down and show you complete ones.


■ I cannot wait. The end has come, now, thank you ma’am.

O: Not at all.


Interview & Text by Misaka Youhei

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