Onitsuka Tiger was formed in 1949 by former military officer Onitsuka, and remains to be seen as one of the oldest Japanese shoe companies. The man was 32 when he started the company and he hoped that through his athletic footwear, the countries’ post-war youth could rebuild their self-esteem. Starting with production of a basketball shoe which in many ways resembled a sandal, the design was soon abandoned as Onitsuka worked to better meet the requirements of basketball players and to make them suitable for all the intense movement they needed to do on the court. By 1952 he had created a far more effective shoe, which quickly gained popularity with basketball-players throughout the country. In 1953 Onitsuka Tiger began working with marathon runner Tooru Terasaw with the goal of creating a shoe that would allow runners to cover long distances without developing blisters on their feet, and in 1957 Onitsuka’s running shoe was adopted by legendary Ethiopian runner Abebe Bikila, who had never previously worn shoes.
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