This blog post is guest written by one of our One Map by FROM JAPAN team members, Philip!
Learn about a personal experience when it comes to finding the perfect running shoes from Japan!
As the heat starts picking up, it is time to start thinking about not only how I will survive running during the peak of summer, but how I can best prepare for the marathons that will come up in Autumn and winter later this year. What better way to prepare…than buying new shoes!
I’m currently training for the Yokohama Marathon, so I run every week, focusing on speed, distance, and recovery depending on the day. My current goals are to run my first marathon, the Yokohama Marathon on October 29 in under 4 hours, the Tokorozawa Half Marathon in under 1.5 hours in December, the Tokyo Marathon in under 3.5 hours in March, and then to complete an ultra.
Until now, rather than loyalty to any particular brand, I have tried to mix-up the brands I buy from and am working my way through shoes from the popular brands like Nike, Adidas, Hoka, Saucony, Brooks, etc. This year however, taking full advantage of living in Japan, I am looking at exploring offerings from Asics!
Exploring the ASICS Online & Flagship Store in Harajuku, Tokyo
With this, I headed to the ASICS flagship store in Harajuku, Tokyo, and it was an absolute treat for running shoe enthusiasts. The range of shoes available, especially newer releases, was just what I wanted to see. Speaking with the staff at the store, they also explained how, especially recently with the favourable exchange rate, they get lots of non-Japanese customers coming in as many of the shoes on sale are cheaper than buying in their home country. What’s even better, is that they have lots of colorways available only in Japan, and exclusively for sale direct from Asics!
Whatsmore, the excitement doesn’t end at the physical stores! A closer look at the ASICS website reveals a vast array of running shoe options that differ from those available outside of Japan. The Japan-specific lineup features a selection of colorways, and limited editions that cater to the preferences and trends of the Japanese running community.
One pair I considered was a pair of Gel-Nimbus 25 in the 2023 Tokyo Marathon Colors. The huge amount of cushioning, along with a colorway I really like, was extremely tempting.
Tokyo Marathon Quick Information
Tokyo Marathon is one of the biggest marathon events held in Japan. This yearly event is inclusive towards runners of various levels and abilities, and drew an impressive 37,500 runners in 2023.
The 2024 Tokyo Marathon will be held on March 3, 2023 with general entry starting in August 2023. Non-Tokyo residents are also allowed to enter via a lottery system, and the 2024 marathon will feature two types of events: a Marathon for Men, Women, Wheelchair Men, Wheelchair Women, and a 10.7km Race with categories for Men and Women for Junior & Youth, Visually Impaired, Intellectually Challenged, Transplant and Wheelchair.
Every year, Japanese sportswear brand ASICS collaborates with the event for special limited edition Tokyo Marathon running shoes. You can find some of these shoes here on One Map by FROM JAPAN!
But what did I end up with!?
Well, as I am a sucker for Orange, the Colorway I went for wasn’t actually a Japan exclusive. But I ended up getting a pair of Novablast 3 shoes in the Black/Amber colorway!
When it comes to marathon training, the shoes suited for the day’s training (whether it’s speed-oriented, distance-oriented, or recovery-oriented) will vary. For example, if you’re doing recovery-oriented training, shoes with thicker cushioning is better. On the other hand, if you’re doing speed oriented or distance-oriented training, lightness and stability differences are more important than cushioning.
Based on this, the optimal solution is to change shoes depending on the day, but financially I don’t want to buy 3 or 4 pairs, so I chose Novablast because it has a good balance of cushioning, lightness and stability, making it a shoe that can be used in any occasion.
The only issue I had was that I couldn’t find a pair available in any stores, nor on Asics or other stores’ websites! So I turned to one of Japan’s super reliable Flea market platforms. While there were options of Rakuma and Mercari, I ended up buying from a seller on Yahoo! Auctions!
So now I have the shoes…all that is left…is to actually run!
Getting Japan Exclusive Running Shoes
If you are interested in getting these items from outside of Japan, One Map by From Japan is your solution! With the weakening Japanese yen, in some regions even including international shipping, you may be able to purchase for even less than in your home country!
For anyone interested, you can browse all the offerings from Asics, including their Japan-exclusive line up, via ASICS’ official Japanese website!
If you find a pair you like, then it is super easy to place an order via this order form, simply copy and paste the item page URL of the shoes that you want to buy, then you should get a page that looks like this below, where you can simply add the item to your cart for easy checkout!
To follow the route I went, you can search multiple different flea market sites, such as Mercari, Yahoo! Auctions and Rakuma, in one-go, like I did below!