Why I Love “Onitsuka Tiger” Sneakers
It was in the later part of December last year that the Onitsuka Tiger Page on Facebook appeared in my News Feed and I found out that the famous Japanese sneakers brand had re-created my first ASICS Running Shoes in the early 80s as their California 78 Model (and later as Ultimate 81 Model) which was their new model for the year-end season. The following day, I tried to recall where I stored those old Onitsuka Tiger sneakers that I bought few years ago in the US which had been with me for the past 15-20 years. I was able to bring out two pairs of them, one for trail running and another one is a complete replica/copy of the GT model that was very popular as cushioned running shoes of ASICS with the popular Red and Blue Logo of the brand. I found out that I had these two shoes repaired by stitching the sole with the uppers by a local shoe repair guy making them more durable in the coming years of use. I consider them as my Vintage Collection of Onitsuka Tiger Sneakers.
I tried using them in my casual wear for the next few days and they were still comfortable using them with some concerns if I use them for a longer period during the day, like driving and walking in the Shopping Malls. I observed that the cushion of the insoles are no longer the same when they were new and they seem to be in shorter size as I suspect that my shoe size had increased by half an inch for the past years that I have been running ultra trails and roads. So, I decided to look where I could find and buy the latest models of the said shoe brand in Metro Manila. However, to add more curiosity about the brand, I would join the Facebook Group of Onitsuka Tigers users in the Philippines. (Note: I will mention my observation about this group on the later part of this post).
In one of my stays in Metro Manila, I finally decided to visit the Brand Store of Onitsuka Tiger at the Shangrila Mall which is located at the 2nd Floor. On my first visit to the store, I was able to buy two pairs of their classic models: Red California 78 Model, a re-creation of my GMT shoes in the early 80s and their White Leather Mexico 66 with the Red and Blue Stripes Logo. These two models had a great and significant history in the world of running. You can “google” them if want to know more of the details, most specially if you are an average and competitive runner. The Onitsuka Tiger’s Mexico 66 Model became popular as the running shoes of Champions and Medalists in the Olympic Games 1968, 1972, and up to this date. (Note: NIKE would not be in the world of sneakers and running shoes without the Onitsuka Tiger and the rest is history).
By wearing these two classic shoes, I thought I was brought back to those years that I was starting to be a runner and being a competitive marathon runner in late 70s and early 80s. Although, I could only muster to have a best time of 17+minutes of 5K; 45-minute plus in 10K; 1:30+hours in half-marathon; and 3:30+hours of Marathon, I did not have any dream then of becoming a faster runner because of my work then in the military service. But at the back of my mind, I tried and failed to reach the qualifying times for my age in the prestigious Boston Marathon. The ASICS shoes and the Brand Logo of Red and Blue stripes were symbols of durability and comfort to all the runners then which I think up to these days are being maintained by the company.
It was in the first quarter of this year that I intently researched on the models of this brand which brought me to buy more of them. Oh, well, I bought more of their classic ones like the “Kill Bill” Yellow Leather Shoes (Mexico 66 Tai Chi) and the OT Shoes (Corsair) that was copied by NIKE which came up as the CORTEZ Model which is more popularly known as the NIKE Forrest Gump Running Shoes. I bought this OT model at the OT Brand Store in Causeway Bay, Hongkong last February 2019. (Note: Only to find out that this particular model shoes was available in the local market after two week from my trip to Hongkong).
Not being able to wait to make a trip to Japan this year, I decided to buy a Leather Shoes Made In Japan (Nippon Made) of Mexico 66 Model at the OT Shangrila Store before I left for the Boston Marathon last April. The price is more expensive than buying this particular model in Japan but I promised myself that this will be my last pair of OT. I have lost count in the number of pairs that I bought before I had this pair that is Made In Japan (Nippon Made). Most the shoes being sold in the local market are Made In Vietnam but they have the same comfort and durability that the brand is known for.
The leather Made In Japan shoes that I bought is already my favorite shoes for my casual wear most specially if I am wearing my Red Pants. I used it during my trip in USA & Italy and I found them very comfortable and classy. I will be using them again in my next trips to Europe and the United States.
I broke my promise not to buy anymore of these shoes after I purchased the OT Made In Japan. I think I bought two pairs again two weeks ago.
I have removed myself already from the OT Facebook Group so that I would not be tempted to buy again. It is also irritating to see some members posting their OT finds in “Ukay-Ukay” asking the members if they Legit or not and some are posting Fake ones For Sale.
It is my plan to buy another pair of Made In Japan (Nippon Made) among its Classic Models if ever I will have a chance to visit Japan again, maybe by next year. Wearing this brand, aside from its comfort and durability, this brand looks classy on whatever I wear in my casual clothes. And also remember those days that I was a young, faster, and stronger runner. Wow!