When I went sneaker shopping two weeks ago, I discovered the Asics Japan shoe line. They were specifically made for marathon runners. I was intrigued.
Let me tell you that I absolutely abhor going into a department store to find shoes⁵, even if it’s a high-end store like Sogo. In fact, don’t go to Sogo. You’ll save money by going to regular shops. For sneakers, I recommend the Gongguan area (公館站)¹, which has got at least a dozen different sneakers, carrying everything from Nike to Acupuncture².
Update: I’ve worn them for a full day and you barely notice that you are wearing any shoes. They are extremely light. I’d like to get a small scale to see how many grams they do weigh. I’m pretty happy with my purchase.
I found the design of these shoes very interesting. They were flat soled, a better interpretation of what Nike is trying to do with their Nike Frees. I actually found a store carrying the Nike Frees in Taipei, after having found none everywhere else. Unfortunately, the models looks pretty bad. They aren’t like the ones on the website.
Back to the SM Japan Duos. Another thing I noticed at Sogo was their price. They were quite expensive, at around $180. In Taiwan, there aren’t many sneakers that cost so much since they are mostly made here. Top end running shoes from Asics and Mizuno will cost you at most $120. In North America, the same shoes will cost at least twice as much. I saw the Gel Kinsei 2 shoes selling for $250.
The girls at the shop weren’t very helpful. They tried their best, but didn’t speak the language well and said that they couldn’t order my size in. This was after I had tried on a US size 9.5. I usually wear 10.5 or 11. The shoes themselves were different looking. They were a darker shade with a metallic red wave logo. They are extremely light. They practically weigh nothing. I don’t think that Nike makes anything as light as these.
Once again, I forgot to mention that I was trying to find some blue sneakers. I love blue and it’s my favorite color. My Nike Airmax 360 are denim colored⁴, which I really like. For the life of me, I couldn’t find any blue shoes, except some New Balance sneaks which were too powder blue for my taste.
Bummed, I decided to try out some Onitsuka Tiger shoes, a lifestyle line from Asics. A pair of golden rod shoes hit my fancy. After I tried them on, they looked pretty good. The girls liked them too, but they’ll say thumbs up to anything.
I left the shop wondering about the SM Japan Duos that weren’t available in my size. I was a bit annoyed that I had found a pair of shoes that I liked but that they weren’t available in my size and couldn’t be ordered in.
After researching the model online, I didn’t find out much. It took me a few different tries before I found out that yes, indeed, they were made in Japan and available for the Asian market. Unavailable in the US or Canada. I found three different colors. Two white based and the reddish color that I liked. I paid no heed to the other colors and tried to find out more about the red colored ones.
One thing I made certain of is my shoe size in Japanese size. That would just eliminate some frustration and make things quicker. For the record, I’m a 28.5. It took quite a few times before I found enough information. The shoes were classified as for “elite” runners. They have flat soles and are extremely light.
I tried to find them, but hadn’t really made that much of an effort until today. I was thinking about ordering the on the internet³, but I lucked out and found a shop near Gongguan which had both newer models in stock. They were the white models, one with blue streaks and one with red streaks. The darker colored one was nowhere in sight. I was told that the other model was an older one from last year. After looking around a bit, I came back to the shop that had them and tried them out some more. I bought the pair with blue streaks. They look pretty good and are very light.
Although initially my plan wasn’t to use them for running, I plan on using them sometime this week. I’m just curious on how they feel. My other running shoes are Asics Gel Kinsei 2s from last year. They’ve probably upgraded the models since then, but I don’t really care about that. I tend to wear a shoe until it brakes.
* * * * *
[¹]: It’s basically a student ghetto. Located between the Taida (NTU, 國立臺灣大學) and Shida Gongguan (NTNU, 師大) campuses, the area has some great deals on sneakers and books. Probably other things, but those are the shops that I noticed. There are also quite a lot of unfriendly foreigners there. Out of 13, only one nodded to say hello. It’s like being back home!
[²]: I was actually surprised to see two or three shops stock Royal Elastics. I know of one model that I liked, but I was a man on a mission. And that mission was finding Sortie Marathon Japan Duos from Asics. Damn the rest to hell!
[³]: Lucky I didn’t, because my initial estimate was size 28 and they barely fit me. 28.5 fit like a glove.
[⁴]: These Nikes are shit to run in, as I discovered at my expense when I started raking up the miles. They weigh 120z and look good. However, I pierced the air compartment in 2007 when I stepped on a thumbtack left on the floor by a Kindergarten kid. Since then, they have been making annoying swishing sounds. It’s been a few years and now both air chambers are pierces. I’ve started walking around a lot more and it’s become an annoyance.
[⁵]: […] or anything else for that matter. Department store and shopping drain my life away. I feel like some Twilight-like energy vampire sucked my life away. It’s a wonder why my wife and other women love it so.