Mikoto Chiba (center) and his two apprentices form the legendary shoe shining group Chiba Special

For the last 18 years a man named Mikoto Chiba has been polishing the shoes of businessmen and women working in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Over the years he’s developed a reputation for being the best of the best. Long lines began forming in front of his small stall outside Yurakucho Station and included several notable business leaders. But when stricter street vendor regulations forced him to relocate, his powerful clients pitched in to help make Chiba’s new business, well, special.

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When Chiba Special opened their new location inside the Tokyo Kotsukaikan shopping mall, Chiba’s opening ceremony out-shined some of his fancier peers. Crowds and press came out to see the new uniforms, which had been produced by the CEO and Chairman of fashion label United Arrows.

The chairs and polishing stools were also custom-designed by major design firm Nomura, whose CEO was one of Chiba’s customers.

And of course on display was the Chiba Special cream, a polishing agent developed by Chiba himself. For his new location, which happens to be right next to a cafe, Chiba tweaked the ingredients so the smell wouldn’t bother the other customers.

Getting your shoes shined at Chiba Special will cost you 1000 yen and about 15 min of your time, unless there’s a line (which there often is). Go first thing in the morning, or on a rainy day, to avoid lines.

Chiba Special
Tokyo Kotsukaikan 1st floor lobby (Gmap)
9:00am – 7:00pm (closed Sundays and holidays)