Shoeshine Artisans in Japan part14 Ms. Juria Nakano (Ownskin)

A series of "Shoeshine Craftsmen's Journey". This is a series of articles about shoe-shine artisans. There are many wonderful shoeshiners in the world! In our 14th installment, we introduce you to Shurinmei Nakano of Ownskin in Hiroshima, Japan. Despite her fashionable and cute appearance, she is the first female shoeshiner who showed her skills in the shoeshine competition in 2023.

How did you get started in shoeshine?

My first encounter with leather shoes was when I bought a pair of PARABOOT Mikael shoes when I was a freshman in college. I was working part-time at a hair salon at the time, and there were many fashionable people around me, so I learned about PARABOOT and desperately saved up the money to buy them. I thought about taking care of them myself, but I thought it would be better to have a professional take care of them because they are very important shoes. I went to a shoeshine shop and that was my first encounter with shoeshine.

When I had them polished, I was impressed by how beautiful leather shoes could become, and I was attracted to the idea of using things for a long time. From there, I went to a shoe shine shop once every six months and was drawn into the charm of shoe shine. At that time in 92, it was rare for a young girl to come to the store, and there was a bit of a buzz about it, "Oh no, here comes a girl! (laugh) I was wearing a unique fashion at the time, and my hair was short and blonde or dyed navy, so it seemed to have an impact on me. (Laughs.)

After graduating from college, I found a job at a general company because there was nothing in particular that I wanted to do. My first job there was at an electronics retail store, where I had to talk to people. But it wasn't something I was happy to do. Then I thought about my life again and decided that I didn't want to live a life where I could make money doing things that didn't make me happy. I wanted to do something that made me happy! I wanted to do something that made me happy. So I quit my job at the electronics store after only two days of training (laugh).

After quitting the job, I really thought about what I wanted to do. I wrote it down on paper and consulted with others. The one that seemed to fit the best was shoeshine. I went to 92 that day and told them I wanted to work there. Looking back, I think I was amazing for taking action at that time. I had seen Mana Kawamura on TV and thought it was cool to be a female shoeshiner. I wanted to be like her. I also thought that the shoeshine industry was a good one.

When I went to 92 to ask for a job, there were no job openings, and the first thing they suggested was for me to go see Mana-san in person. I went to see her, talked to her, and if I really wanted to work as a shoeshiner, I would come back. I immediately asked Mana to polish my shoes. I immediately went to see Mana-san to have my shoes polished. At that time, she had already moved her base to Tokyo, so I remember I took an overnight bus for 12 hours to go see her. Laughs.

After talking with Mana-san, I wanted to do shoeshine even more, so I went to 92 right after I came back to Hiroshima to reiterate that I wanted to do shoeshine. They appreciated my energy and enthusiasm on the spot and I decided to work there.

In July of my 24th year, I started my business under the name Ownskin and looked for a place to do shoeshine. I had friends who owned cafes, bars, and interior stores, so I was allowed to borrow their stores when they were closed. I was running the interior store on Saturdays and Sundays, the café on Wednesdays and Fridays, and the bar on Mondays and Thursdays, but it was a very difficult time. I had to take shoes back home because I couldn't leave them in the store, and there were many days when no customers showed up.

I had known PENTA since I was 92 years old, and I had been invited to PENTA's YouTube projects and had also helped him with repairs, so I asked him about it and he said, "Do it at our place. So I asked him about it, and he said, "Do it at our shop," and I have been doing shoe polishing at PENTA since March 2023.

The name "Ownskin" means "Own" and "Skin" means "skin," so I hope that people will take care of their leather goods just as they take care of their own skin. The name "Own" means "myself" and "Skin" means "skin.

What is your speciality in shoe polishing?

Hmmm...well, I guess. I often use a delicate cream. I like the comfort of Saphir's delicate cream, but it cracks at the creases, so I want to keep it well moisturized and the leather becomes chewy, so I apply an oil cream or emulsifying cream after that. I value the chewy feeling of the leather when I touch it with my hands, so I change the amount of cream I apply depending on the condition of the shoes and the leather.

For cleaners, I use Saphir Renomat or Boot Black High Shine Cleaner. I try to take it off thoroughly so as not to damage the leather. As for mirror polish, I pay attention to the overall balance. I like the gradation from the heel to the side, but I think it looks a little make-up-y.

Many of the customers at the counter polish are young, and we often talk about love (laugh). (Laughs.) But when it comes to the finish of the shoes, I just ask them if they want to mirror the shoes or not. I just ask her if she wants the shoes to be mirror polished or not.

Do you have any impressive customers or shoes?

Well, I don't know, but I am very happy when a customer becomes interested in leather shoes after learning about me on Instagram and comes to buy them. There are also people who have changed their jobs to become shoe repairmen or shoe polishers after learning about the shoeshiner profession. I am very happy when people come to meet me and Mr. Yamazaki of penta.

What do you think is the best way to get women interested in shoeshine?

First of all, in terms of female shoeshiners, I think that if there are female role models in this industry, the number will increase. I think it would be great if there were more role models for women in the industry to aspire to, including those who can make a living at this job. Sometimes I receive DMs from women who want to become a shoeshiner, and I tell them that it is difficult to learn on their own and that they should work somewhere else. On rare occasions, I have had people ask me to teach them, but I politely decline, saying, "I'm too busy teaching myself. I can't teach them because I'm too busy myself.

I think it is difficult to increase the number of female clients. In fact, I am one of them, but women tend to spend their money on other things (laugh), so it's definitely not a priority for me. I wonder what I should do...(laugh) When women go to get their nails done, they choose parts and colors, and talk about it, and it becomes one of their monthly pleasures. I think shoe polishing might increase if people start to enjoy it as much as nail art does.

Do you have any plans for the future?

I don't have a specific goal in mind, but I am aiming to become a cool shoeshiner with good skills and name recognition. While being a craftsman, I also want to become a unique and interesting person who is active as an "influencer" on social networking sites, where I share my lifestyle with a focus on interior design. I am often asked, "Don't you have your own store? I am often asked this question, but when I first started my own business, I spent six months alone in the store and it was very lonely. So I don't want to run a store by myself. I don't want to work alone.

But I love this job, so I want to do it for as long as I can. When I quit, it will be when I am alone, I am sure. Laughs.

My biggest motivation in shoeshine is "fun! I am happy when people are happy that their shoes are clean. It's fun and makes me happy to see people happy when their shoes are clean. Also, I had never done scratch repair before, but since I came to PENTA, I have been struggling with it, but it is fun to improve my skills other than polishing, such as color matching and scratch repair. My number one goal right now is to become the first female shoe polisher to win the competition! I will do my best. !!!!

I'll do my best!

I'll do my best!


When we talked with her, I was impressed by the fact that she always spoke frankly and without lying, despite her modern girlish atmosphere. I thought that Mr. Zhu Rinmei is a manly craftsman with a thick core, who has honestly faced what he wants to do and chosen the path he wants to take. His gap between what he looks like and what he really is is the reason why he has so many fans.