Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A shoemaker

The other evening a friend and I were looking for a restaurant in my neighborhood and we ran across this place that seemed to be selling a pair and a half of shoes.

I could see some leather rolls in the back, however, so I pointed out that it was probably a shoemaker's and, of course, we proceeded to get into an argument about the place of hand-made shoes in the modern world.

Eventually, the shoemaker saw us out there carrying on this discussion and invited us in to see his shop.

He seemed to me to be pretty young for a shoemaker. He was definitely younger than me, although, speaking frankly, this can no longer be regarded as much of a criterion for youth.

Apparently, he was trained in various famous shoemaking shops in Italy and England and he seemed to care as much about shoes as anybody who has taken the time necessary to develop real skill in something cares about that thing for which they have given so many of their hours.

He was able to talk endlessly about the various leathers - where they come from and what they are best suited for - the machines - all of which came from Germany - and that each pair of shoes is entirely custom made based on a cast of the client's foot. His shoes start at around 100,000円.

My friend asked him what was the most difficult thing about being a shoemaker and he said that all ladies want an elegant shoe - something that is slim and graceful - but the ladies who could afford a 100,000円 pair of shoes tend to be both fat and ugly, and it is only with great skill and diligence that a shoe that looks slim and graceful can be made to bear such a lady.

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