The history of Onitsuka Tiger is inextricably bound up with that of its hometown, Kobe. Its shoes bear witness to the craftsmanship of its founding fathers, whose legacy is still very much alive. In the summer of 2011, ASICS employee Mutaurwa Mapondera embarked on a pilgrimage to Kobe, seeking to understand the company's vision and origins and how they influence it today.
The result: a captivating series of three videos, recounting the story of Onitsuka Tiger’s beginnings in the words of those involved (from the very start). This series is known as the GENTEN project, with GENTEN meaning “origin” or “first steps” in Japanese.
Delving deep into the brand's long history, Mapondera interviewed five men reverentially referred to as the Legends. Each played an influential role in the early days of the company and worked closely with the founder, Kihachiro Onitsuka, and together they offer a unique perspective on how the brand came into being. Despite the generational shift that has occurred since then, their contribution to the Onitsuka Tiger legacy has been an indelible one.
All journeys begin with a few humble first steps: while Onitsuka Tiger's products have attained iconic status worldwide, the brand began in 1949 with just one man and one unique vision.
When Kihachiro Onitsuka designed the OK Basketball Shoe more than 60 years ago in a small shop in Kobe, he laid the foundations for a global sports fashion brand. The global influence of this cosmopolitan city lives on in every product the company sells today – all of which are crafted using the finest materials and technology.
The GENTEN videos are part of a process of reconnecting with the company's legacy. By retracing its historic first steps, it hopes to begin a journey into a new era for the brand.
The first film, scheduled for release in November 2011, will focus on the relationship between the brand and the city as a way of giving something back to the city that has nurtured it for so long.
The second, which makes its debut in January 2012, looks at the Olympic athletes with whom Onitsuka Tiger has worked, while the third, due in March 2012, explores the brand's dedication to innovation.