This is the one I’ve been waiting for, the one I’ve been wanting to write. Ok, deep breath.
When I’d heard that adidas were bringing the Takumi Sen to the US market, I had to have some alone time. By now you might have observed that I dig the Japanese designed stuff. The Japanese have deep roots in the marathon and their love for the sport and its qualities, combined with the simplicity and functionality inherent in so much of the Japanese design aesthetic really makes for beautiful running shoes. Ok, maybe I’m getting too philosophical, but, shit man! they make some nice stuff.
I’m just now getting over the heartbreak I suffered when I heard that the ASICS Tarther were being discontinued in the American market. Why do the Euros get it still? The Tarther are the shit and they look retro cool, like Seko might have worn them, almost. The Adios 2, also with Japanese heritage, are one of the very best shoes on the market, period. Yeah, they’re marketed as a racer and yeah, they’ve got all kinds of crazy things going on in the midsole, but for the most part, it’s all functional. The original Adios were, inmyveryhumbleopinion, a better shoe. And by better I mean they were a little smoother in ride. They didn’t have the pop, the responsiveness, of the Adios 2, but you forgive that for the sheer comfort of the whole thing. (Kinda like road bikes: You get a really nice carbon fiber frame designed to be super stiff, super rigid and it feels awesome, powerful, responsive, but then after about four hours on the thing you’re teeth are falling out and you wonder if there is a thing called Shaken Cyclist Syndrome. At least, that’s what I hear. The whole cycling thing is, I don’t know, kinda weird. And by weird I mean ridiculously fucking expensive.) Anyway, what?
The original Adios and the Tarther were, by the way, pretty much the same shoe, if you really think about it. Except for the branding, they looked almost exactly the same. Similar rides–though I could feel the heel of the Tarther a wee bit more when I was tired–and similar fit–the Tarther was a bit more spacey up front–and they both came from design teams in, yeah, Japan.
And then there are the Mizuno Ekiden, which are similar to the Takumi Sen in the same way the Adios and Tarther were similar. The Ekiden are a roomier fit, but the ride is almostbutnotquite as firm as the TS. In the midsole of the TS is a double forked plastic insert thing that runs from the midfoot through the forefoot (much like in the Adios 2). It heightens the responsiveness and gives the shoe some crazy pop when you’re moving fast. It is one of the very few technology pieces that seem to have any real, noticeable benefit to the wearer, not dissimilar to the midfoot carbon fiber plate in the Skechers GORun Speed and in the old FILA racer.
The first time I put them on, they felt snug, real snug, but the kind of snug that makes you feel all warm and giggly, ready for a good run and not the kind of snug where you’re anticipating losing sheets of skin in bloody pedal carnage. And adidas does that lace thing, where they lace upside down, or backwards or some shit and it bugs the crap out of me. On all my adidas I have to relace them and on some of them I have to do that Lydiard lacing thing. But once you have them on your feet, you know you’re going to run fast, even if only for a moment, before your body says, Um, hey dude, can we get a little warmup here? Every run in them has been a real joy. The firmness–mmmmmm, firmness–is right on and I always have the feeling of being almostbutnotquite barefoot. When you’re jogging in the them, you feel connected to the ground, solid; when there’s some hauling of the ass, you feel like you’re above it. They’re special, those Takumi Sen. Kinda like in Spinal Tap when Nigel won’t let Meathead even look at his guitar. It’s like that. Don’t even look at them.
Except the white and pink color is fugly. Really, I don’t know what adidas were thinking. Not that they give a shit what I’m thinking, about the color anyway. Just, I don’t know, awful. Word on the street is that the TS were going to be discontinued in the US, maybe to make ASICS feel better from that terrible Tarther fiasco, I don’t know. But it was probably because the color sucked and no one was buying. That, and the $150 price tag, I don’t know. But now they’re going to keep them around, and one hopes the color will be, you know, better. The current Japanese market color is the yellow, kinda like the current Adios 2 here in the US, and I don’t know why we didn’t get that, because the yellow is, you know, better.
Like Mizuno, adidas would do well to bring in some other Japanese market models, maybe like the Takumi Ren, which makes me think of Ren and Stimpy. Also, I think that a version of these bad girls with a blown rubber full contact outsole would be the shit, but then they couldn’t put the Continental rubber on there, and you gotta have the Continental rubber on there. But if they never get around to making those changes, they’ve got a shoe that is one of the very best on the face of the planet, except for the color. Really, the only way the Takumi Sen could be any better would be if Kayoko Fukushi hand delivered them to me and then we’d go for a run and after have omelets at the Omelettry and we’d just kind of laugh and not say anything, mostly because we don’t speak the same language.