Winning shoe in the first World Championships last year, polished by Yuya Hasegawa.

The first world champion in shoe shining, Yuya Hasegawa, has become a bit of a celebrity in his home country Japan. Latest proof of that is a 50 minute long documentary aired on the Japanese public service broadcasting company NHK, now available to view with English voice over for two weeks time, including a brief interview with myself.


It’s part of a documentary series called The Professionals, which I believe is aired on prime time on one of NHK:s channels in Japan. It portraits various people with more or less special professions. It’s quite ambitious documentaries, though no big budget project. In the documentary about Yuya Hasegawa, with the subheading “A life that shines from the shoes up”, we get to know how how he started of as a pretty average shoe shiner on the streets of Tokyo, how his competitiveness made him want to learn all he could and founded one of the pioneering shoe shining bars (nowadays he has several of them) in Japan, and how he has worked to raise the status of shoe shining in Japan and abroad. Part of it, of course, was when he won the World Championships in Shoe Shining 2017 at the London Super Trunk Show.

Yuya Hasegawa in the documentary. Picture: NHK

Yuya Hasegawa in the documentary. The top picture shows his winning shoe in the world champs in shoe shining.

The 50 minutes documentary is sort of divided into three parts, first following his actual profession when shining shoes, where you get a few of practical tips on shining and get to see how he works. Then Hasegawa’s personal story from growing up in Chiba outside Tokyo, and his way to the shoeshining profession. And last third follows the everyday life in one of his shops, with focus on how one of his staff struggles to pass the test they have before being allowed to work on customer shoes. As with all the episodes of this documentary series, they take the profession the portrait very seriously, the same way as Yuya Hasegawa does.
As mentioned, you will also se me briefly, in an interview they did here in Gothenburg, Sweden, where I talked about the world championships in shoe shining and Hasegawa’s win in the first contest.

The documentary can be viewed here at NHK’s international site, with English voice over, until June 28.