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 1950 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.

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Story of a bath

A light-bulb moment came when a steaming hot bath wrinkled the toes of Kihachiro Onitsuka. That made him realise heat was the cause of blisters on runners' feet and inspired him to study the air-circulating systems for his long-distance shoes. The innovative holes were first seen in the 1959 MAGIC RUNNER that was lighter, faster and allowed feet to breathe.

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The need for speed

Japanese innovation came into its own at the 1964 Tokyo Games. It was here that the iconic RUNSPARK made its debut - Onitsuka Tiger's first fixed-type track spikes for athletes. With four different spike lengths available, an athlete could change them to meet any track condition. Many variations of shoe structure were tried in this series, such as soft sponge being layered into the heel to help absorb shock to the foot when it hit the ground.

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The birth of an icon

Our real mark of progress was made in 1966 with the legendary lines that remain, unchanged, on every pair of Onitsuka Tigers and ASICS today. First seen on LIMBER UP KAWA BK, designed for the pre-trials of the Mexico 68 Games. Today, reincarnated as the MEXICO 66 - the most popular shoe in our collection.

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An athletic forerunner

Regular performance at the Olympic Games helped Onitsuka Tiger earn its stripes as one of the most successful sports shoe companies in Japan. And the rest of the world did more than sit up and notice. Phil Knight, an American middle distance runner and protegee of Bill Bowerman spoke to Mr Onitsuka as part of his MBA in marketing athletic shoes and loved the new TIGER CORTEZ that had just been released. Blue Ribbon Sports, the company he set up to bring Onitsuka Tigers to the USA, would later become Nike.

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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.

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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.


  • MEXICO 66
    MEXICO 66

    Born in 1966, the iconic Mexico 66® model made its debut as a cutting-edge runner at the pre-trials for the 1968 Mexico City Olympic games. Fifty years later, it remains the most sought-after model in the collection. The revival of this heritage racer includes a full-grain leather treatment on the side panels and tiger stripes contrasted with a smooth suede heel and toe cap. Its trademark heel tab features natural leather branded with the Onitsuka Tiger® model emblem. Available in three retro color combinations.

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  • GSM

    Conceptualized by vintage tennis roots and styling, the GAME SET MATCH™ model is set for the everyday scene with its conventional silhouette. Utilizing soft suede and leather overlays, this timeless tennis sneaker pays tribute to the classic sport’s simple and customary lineage.

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    The MEXICO DELEGATION is a reproduction of the delegation shoe worn by the Japanese Delegation during the 1968 Olympic Parade of Nations. The original structure of the shoe, as well as its method of production, has been maintained as much as possible. 50 years on, and the MEXICO DELEGATION shoe is launched to celebrate this iconic event. Its superior features include design details, such as the Mexico 66 side logo and the unique graphic mimicking the Olympic Track on the sockliner. This distinctive shoe is crafted from premium suede and is stitched with the legendary Onitsuka Tiger stripes.

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    Debuting in 1969, this classic sneaker was based off the jogging boom from the 1970's.

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