Ippo is a Japanese manga comic book that follows a young Japanese bespoke shoemaker’s everyday life. Nice enough, English translations of the first two volumes are available online, where you can read the comic book free of charge.


The fact that Japanese love shoes is no secret, hardly either that they love comic books, manga. One-third of all printed publications in Japan are manga cartoons of various kinds. So that there is a manga about shoes may not be a giant surprise. Ippo follows the young shoe loving Japanese Ayumu Ichijo, who learns to make shoes from his grandfather who works as a bespoke shoemaker in Florence, Italy, and then returns home to Japan to run his own small company. Now I am not a manga expert, but it follows a fairly traditional template for many of the more grown-up stories, with everyday realism, low tempo, sometimes quite frugal dialogue. It’s almost a bit meditative to browse through the pages.

Ayumy Ichijo, the comic book’s bespoke shoemaker, discusses fit with a customer (read from right to left).

The comic book is written and drawn by the well-known manga writer Em Est, and it’s apparent that she knows the shoe world. In fact, there are several different translations and uploads of Ippo on various open manga sites. The one I think works best, especially on mobile where you can see the entire pages and can choose to just scroll down, is this one on MangaRock (the advertising you have to endure, it’s on all sites). Remember that you read backwards in Japan, so you start with the box at the top right, go left and then jump down to the next from the right. After a while you get into it. Both volumes released can be read, volume 1 with a prologue and five chapters, volume 2 with another five chapters. The translation of the third book is supposed to be in progress, hopefully that and the rest of the series, five in total, will be available in English soon.

Bottom making. Pictures: MangaRock