Mazda owners and fans will know about ‘Jinba Ittai’ – that unity between the driver and the car, the way a rider and a horse can be ‘one’. ‘Jinba Ittai’ became embedded as a core philosophy for Mazda from 1987, during the development of the first MX-5. Tetsu Kasahara, a young engineer in the Chassis Dynamics Development Department at that time, recalls the term being used internally. “One day, Toshihiko Hirai, the first-gen MX-5’s Programme Manager, started printing ‘Jinba Ittai‘ on his business cards, and I think that’s how it came to be used externally,” he said.
Since then, Jinba-Ittai is a must for every Mazda and it is what makes the company’s cars special, especially to those who love driving. It’s not just in the sports models but in every model Mazda makes, including its trucks and MPVs. In some cases where models have been shared with other mnufacturers, eg the early Mazda3 and the Tribute SUV, Mazda engineers have made some small but effective modifications that have achieved Jinba Ittai for the brand’s models.
The importance of driving shoes
Just as the tyres are the crucial contact a car has with the road, the feet of the driver are crucial in the control and driving experience. In pursuit of the best possible Jinba Ittai experience for drivers, Mazda teamed up with Mizuno, a well-known sportswear company, to jointly develop driving shoes. Also involved in the project was Makuake Incubation Studio which provides new product and new business development support.
The driving shoes are said to provide the driver with a driving experience of light yet stable and comfortable pedal operation. For effective operation of the pedals, ‘dorsiflexion support upper’ helps to pull back the foot to the top. The reaction force of the areas that flex makes it easier to adjust the amount of pedal depression more precisely. Mizuno used posture control technology that it cultivated in the development of competition swimwear.
MIZUNO COB technology in sole
The shoes use MIZUNO COB, which enhances the sensitivity of the soles of the feet in order to communicate with the car and obtain a direct feeling of operation. MIZUNO COB can transmit more accurate information to the sole by adding unevenness on the upper surface of the midsole that is linked to the design of the outsole. It provides a direct pedal feel while ensuring the cushioning required for comfort. It therefore enhances Jinba Ittai during driving, giving the sense of unity between the driver and the car and enables smooth pedal operation in various driving situations.
Commenting on the shoes, a Mizuno designer said that if the shoes that connect the driver and the car are solid, human abilities will naturally be brought out. “Shoes are also an important factor in driving; after all, you can’t run well if you wear business shoes when running,” he explained.
First shoe project for Mazda Design
Mazda Design was involved in the shoe design as well, welcoming the challenge of designing a product they have never done before. As with Mazda vehicles, the form is fused with texture and functionality at a high level. The shoe has a black theme (with grey elements) in its design and each shoe weighs 270 grams.
Only for sale in Japan
The shoes, which are only available in Japan, will be on display at Mizuno stores, Mazda headquarters and Mazda dealers from tomorrow. However, deliveries to purchasers will only take place from March 2022. Only 1,350 pairs (in 4 batches) are available and with tax, the total price is 44,000 yen (about RM1,675).
To know more about the Mazda range of vehicles available in Malaysia, visit www.mazda.com.my.