Originally Posted by nutcracker Main-d`or
by Eiji Murata
The man with the Midas touch: His name is Eiji Murata
, a son of a shoemaker, and a 100% home grown and trained craftsman. He founded Main-D`or
about 10 years ago, while also teaching full time at the Esperanza (a shoemaking academy in Asakusa). On the off days (from teaching), he works on commissions at his own studio in a Chiba suburb. He seems to be content in making shoes quietly in his own pace, for those who appreciates his craft, and are willing to seek him out (usually through referrals). He also seems to shun media attention, and not much information (about him) is available in print or online (up until quite recently, an interview on the LAST magazine).
So I decided to take a pilgrimage (to Chiba, an hour ride from central Tokyo) to meet this mysterious shoemaker who is often referred to as `one of the very best` by his peers. Let`s just say that my expectations were very very high. Murata-san greeted me to enter his unassuming studio with a simple plaque that read `Bespoke Shoemaker: Main-D`or`. After serving me a fine cup of coffee, he brought out his shoes and welcomed me to handle them.
So how were they? To be very honest, they were exactly as I imagined. First of all, the level of fit and finish were off the charts. Along with these were sample shoes, I also handled some of his (finished) commissioned works (no pictures!). Indeed they were finished to the same level of details. Then the silhouette came into view. The lasts` shapes were soft, reserved, and well thought out (something that I have started to appreciate more).
Main-d`or shoes aren`t particularly styled in the English tradition though, a point emphasised by Murata himself. The Japanese approach to shoe design, particularly last making, has grown to be fundamentally different from the English / European counterpart, he said. While I can`t really attest about how the fit differs between English vs Japanese shoes, I did sense that locally trained Japanese shoemakers (such as himself) took pride in their Japanese shoemaking heritage. Murata said he and his circle of local shoemakers are very much into rediscovering and preserving the styles and methods used in the country`s past. A fascinating insight into the mind of a consummate artisan.Main-d`or
Soft lines. Impeccable craftsmanship. This must be his golden formula.
The Bevelled Waist
Japanese baby calfskin: Among the finest grained leather that I`ve seen. Only the best available specimens from Ilcea, Zonta, as well from Japanese tanneries, are stocked.
Main-d`or provides 2 fitting sessions to ensure an optimum fit. The 2nd trial shoes are worn over a period of a month or so, and the uppers` creases, the soles` wear pattern provides cues for further optimisation.
Wooden lasts are all carved out from rough-turns.
The far right one is a 20 spi marking wheel. `Sure I can make you a pair (with these), although they won't be
16 stitches per inch, the default for dress shoes.
Mr. Eiji Murata
My thanks to Murata-san for his hospitality!