Born from Ambition

This is the story of Mr Kihachiro Onitsuka. A story that started from a humble idea that sport had the power to transform lives. Anima Sana In Corpore Sano - sound mind, sound body. The Latin maxim that was the ethos behind Onitsuka Tiger, and later became the acronym ASICS.

In the beginning, we set out to help the youth of Japan and rebuild a better future after the War ended in 1949. We believed playing sport was the best way to unite people and connect communities. Sixty years on, this same philosophy remains. Our focus on carefully crafted details and an ongoing urge to innovate is what has allowed us to take Onitsuka Tiger to the world.

Here's some of those moments...


An idea inspired by an octopus

This is a story of an octopus. An eight-legged delicacy fated to be so much more than somebody's supper. Whose tentacle got stuck to a salad bowl served to Kihachiro Onitsuka. And became the inspiration for Onitsuka Tiger's breakthrough sports shoe innovation: the suction cup sole on the 1951 OK BASKETBALL SHOE. Its grip allowed players to make the fast breaks and sudden stops essential to the game. Little wonder the Japanese high school team that first wore the shoes won their championship.


Story of a bath

Kihachiro ONITSUKA had a eureka moment as he watched steaming hot water wrinkle his toes in the bath. Onitsuka had been shown blister-promoting forms by a university medical professor, and he realized that heat causes running blisters. This inspired him to focus on better air circulation for long-distance running shoes. Drilling holes into shoes proved to be an epochal discovery in 1960. The MAGIC RUNNER was not only more lighweight, but also offered excellent air circulation.


The need for speed

Japanese innovation came into its own at the 1964 Tokyo Games. It was here that the iconic RUNSPARK debuted - Onitsuka Tiger's first fixed track spikes for athletes. Athletes could select from four different spike lengths, depending on track conditions. The line featured a number of shoe structures, including a heel with layers of soft sponge to help absorb shock upon impact with the ground.


The birth of an icon

Changes made in 1966 are still evident today. The Onitsuka Tiger stripe first appeared that year and still adorns the sides of Onitsuka Tiger and ASICS shoes. The stripe first appeared on the LIMBER UP Leather BK, introduced for the 1968 Mexico Olympic Game.


An athletic forerunner

By performing excellently at major international events, Onitsuka Tiger earned its stripes as one of Japan's top sports shoe makers. And the rest of the world took notice. American middle-distance runner and Bill Bowerman protege Phil Knight met with Mr. Onitsuka as part of his MBA studies in marketing athletic shoes. He was inspired to set up Blue Ribbon Sports to bring Onitsuka Tiger shoes to the US. The company was soon to become Nike, while Onitsuka Tiger later created the TIGER CORTEZ in response to a request from Blue Ribbon Sports.


The modern jogger takes shape

The CALIFORNIA was made for jogging. It helped maintain the arch of the foot and give firm support to the toes, while the form-fitting insole allowed enough room for the toes to move. The wide, rounded heel aided in balance while landing, and the wide, curved-up toe assisted in forward movement.

As a safety feature, the CALIFORNIA also had reflective patches stitched on the back of the shoes, so that drivers could see the runner from 300 meters away at night or on rainy days.

As Onitsuka Tiger grew to become ASICS, and go on to establish itself as one of the world's leading sports brands - we always knew the spirit of our heritage would live on. A history that prided itself on a Japanese craftsmanship combined with a timeless aesthetic that was discovered on the track, and later worn on the street.

This rich heritage inspired us to relaunch Onitsuka Tiger back into the world in 2002. Classics were refreshed, reinterpreted, reinvented. Taking the original Onitsuka Tiger sports shoes as a starting point, we made changes to cuts, colours and construction to bring you made-for-living remodels of the MEXICO 66, CALIFORNIA 78 and NIPPON MADE.

A rebirth, a revival, but not a repeat. Classics refreshed, reinterpreted, reinvented. We are constantly branching out and collaborating with a variety of creative souls, from visual artists to fashion designers, from art collectives to sneaker boutiques. The collaboration projects over the years bring fresh air into our collections and create excitement for our fans.
The Tiger revival was energised by the master of cross-reference and reinvention of past aesthetics himself. The super streamlined, yell-out-loud yellow TAI CHI gained cult status after starring in the 2003 film Kill Bill. In 2010, we released a limited edition of 250 pairs of TAI CHI. Every pair was hand delivered in a special Chinese take-away packaging to some very lucky sneaker heads.
California is the spiritual home of the jogging and fitness crazes of the 1970s and 1980s. CALIFORNIA 78 was an icon of that era's Onitsuka Tiger. In 2013, we celebrated the 35th anniversary of its impact on sport and fashion with a limited edition of 1978 pairs.
To celebrating Onitsuka Tiger's Japanese roots, between 2007 and 2009, each year we created a meter-long shoe with different themes: "Japanese memorabilia", "Tansu cabinet", "Zodiac Race" and "Electric Light". We delivered literally on our promise that Onitsuka Tiger is 'Made of Japan'.
Born from the love of sport, our passion for it moves us forward. For us, movement is about subtlety, nuance and beauty. It's capturing every detail in the dynamism of modern life. We call it the Craft of Movement, and we set out to capture it in modern day Japan for the SS13 brand campaign. In just five days we rebuilt the bustling streets of Tokyo across three scenes.
We created the Nippon Made collection as wearable masterpieces for your feet. It's unique for its high-quality materials, meticulous attention to detail and remarkable Japanese craftsmanship. Every pair is handmade by Japanese craftsmen using labor-intensive leather tanning and wash-up methods. No two pairs is alike.