In the Chiba prison outside of Tokyo, interns get the opportunity to learn how to make shoes by hand, and the shoes are available to order at an annual market. Also briefly about an article made by the news agency AFP about the Japanese bespoke shoe scene, among which I’m one of the interviewed.
In the Chiba prison there are first-time convicted criminals who are not sentenced to more than eight years in prison. One of the work the interns can do is leather crafts, where they have about 50 seats in their workshop. Among other things, a group manufactures handmadeshoes. It’s about offering meaningful employment during the time in prison, and also giving the opportunity to train skills they benefit from when they eventually will be outside the prison walls. They make MTO and MTM / semi bespoke, which can be ordered by the public at an annual market, the Fuchu Prison Festival. Orders are received here and then delivered home to the customers, the waiting time is about one year.
What is interesting is that the level of shoes generally is really good. Obviously there is a difference depending on who that makes them, but the teacher is supposed to be good and provide good conditions for the people. Naturally, prices are also low, MTO costs around €365 (48,000 yen), MTM / semi bespoke is €530 (70,000 yen).
The majornews agency AFP has made a report about the fast-growing Japanese bespoke scene. Interviewed are the bespoke shoemaker Yohei Fukuda, Mari Yamaguch, who is a teacher in a shoemaking school, and also myself. The article can be read here at Daily Mail, and there is also a shorter film from Tokyo, which can be seen here.