For years, Shiho Nakamura has surrounded herself with shoeboxes.
“I keep my sneakers in their boxes,” says Shiho, a shoekeeper for one of Tokyo’s most influential sneaker boutiques. “I feel each box is like a photo, and when I browse through all of those boxes, I feel like I’m browsing through my own photo album.”
A photo permanently stores memories. For Shiho, sneakers do the same.
“While I have different memories attached to each of my sneakers, those memories may affect my decision for the day, and eventually the style of that day,” Shiho says. “So if I’m planning to meet someone, I may want to wear the same shoe associated with a special memory with that person.”
The Air Max 95 is one particular shoe that elicits strong memories.
“When I saw the Air Max 95 for the first time, I was so shocked,” Shiho says. “The design was so crazy and unlike any sneaker that I had seen before. It was the shoe that introduced me to sneaker culture. And I’d say that for the first time, the sneaker gave me culture shock.”
Shiho’s ever-expanding photo library paints a unique story of how Japan’s sneaker culture has evolved, especially through a women’s lens.
“In the past, it was not always the case but—” she says, momentarily pausing. “I feel that now girls are finally enjoying wearing sneakers. It’s become part of their lifestyle.”
Shiho partly attributes this shift to the fact that women see sneakers as fashionable. But there’s another, perhaps bigger, factor.
“Sports, such as yoga, have become a part of our lifestyle,” Shiho says. “People are having more fun playing sports or living a more active lifestyle. And sports can be the primary reason that people get to know sneakers for the first time.”
This isn’t just an observation. Shiho is learning this first-hand on the streets of Tokyo.
“Sneakers are a communication tool for me, which makes it easier to break the ice,” Shiho reveals. “I often get asked, ‘What is that shoe?,’ or, “How can I find good sneakers?’ from other girls when they see me in them.”
Armed with a camera and a deep appreciation for Air Max, Shiho is more drawn to embodying this blossoming culture than ever before.
“When I wear my favorite one, I am filled with a sense of pride and satisfaction. I feel like I’m dreaming. They make my day happy.”
On Air Overview
Air Max isn’t just a shoe—it’s a revolution. What started as a performance running solution in 1987 has since evolved into a currency for youth and self-expression. In the lead-up to Air Max Day, Nike will explore the passions of seven Air Max enthusiasts who, despite different latitudes, prove that the language of sneakers is universal.