Onitsuka Tiger Sneakers

Onitsuka Tiger is a line of vintage sneakers manufactured and sold by the Japanese apparel company ASICS. ASICS started manufacturing shoes in 1949, being called at the time Onitsuka Co. Ltd., but changed its name in time, the current name being an acronym for Latin phrase “anima sana in corpore sano”, which means “a sound mind in a sound body”.

The founder, Kihaciro Onitsuka thought that if he could manage to create a good shoe for the kids in Kobe who were playing basketball mostly barefoot at the time, he could make a fortune.

His bet was right and after studying and understanding the needs of the kids for over 6 months, he created the first Onitsuka basketball shoe that became a major hit in Japan.

Onitsuka Tiger sneakers in the Olympics

Onitsuka Tiger became particularly known after the 1966 Olympic Games in Mexic when the Japanese Olympic Committee asked the company to design and manufacture the uniforms for the national Olympic team.

This is the first time the lines that define the Onitsuka design were first introduced. That’s why they are called “Mexico lines” and they’re the company’s trademark. For more about the Onitsuka Tiger Mexico 66 sneaker go here.

Onitsuka Tiger Sneakers

Onitsuka Tiger Sneakers

Around the same time, a former agency of Onitsuka in the US began selling the Cortez sneaker, based on Onitsuka’s Corsair shoe. It was run by Phil Knight and the firm would later become Nike.

Onitsuka Tiger created uniforms for more Olympic, the most important one being the 1976 Montreal Olympics when runner Lasse Viren won a double Gold after the team made some last minute adjustments to the sneakers the night before.

Onitsuka Tiger Island

Onitsuka Tiger Island

In the 70s, Onitsuka Tiger explored now opportunities in other sports and they made a hit with the growing trend of jogging.

Today, the Tiger is a global brand, best known in Asia and Europe and it’s increasing in popularity in the US.

I like the current campaign that features a cool Japanese style video in which the Tiger and other imaginary creatures race for the trophy on an fantasy island filled with obstacles. It’s cool, it’s childish and it’s definitely Japanese!

All in all, Onitsuka Tiger sneakers are a great choice and I recommend them for everybody who is interested both in performance and casual shoes, but especially for the who love Japanese sneakers.

One of the most popular sneakers under this brand is the Onitsuka Tiger Ultimate 81, first introduced in 1981 and enriched with a new color combination all the time. I wrote a whole article about it so go ahead and check it out.

If you’re into climbing and spending time in the nature, then Onitsuka Tiger Gatrai is the shoe to have. Introduced in 1977, it’s one of the most performant of its kind.

Zappos has an unbelievable selection of Onitsuka Tiger shoes, so I suggest you go take a look. Chances are you’ll also run into an unexpected sale, so don’t miss the chance!

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