This is a story of triumph, creativity, and hundreds of busted desk chairs.
In 2010, Tsuyoshi Tahara of Kyotanabe, Japan, was trying to save his struggling photography studio. Tahara’s business and the other small businesses on his block were struggling to compete with high-end malls and new supermarkets popping up in their city.
So Tahara thought big and came up with the perfect way to bring shoppers back: a race with rolling office chairs.
Yep, you read that right.
Now in its sixth year, the ISU-1 Chair Grand Prix has spread to 12 prefectures in Japan and has brought along with it fanfare, delight, and lots of happy shoppers.
Take a behind-the-scenes look at what it took to be competitive at this year’s race in Kyotanabe which was held on March 26.
1. Round up your bravest friends.
You can only have a team of three, so a pre-race showcase of strength and daring may be required.
2. Secure the appropriate attire for office chair racing.
What might that be? you ask. Well, you’re definitely going to want a helmet. And probably some knee pads.
And some stretchy pants can’t hurt, right? Aerodynamics and whatnot.
Since you are in an office chair, you can go full business casual and throw on a necktie.
Or dress like some sort of baked good. I’m not here to judge.
3. Get limbered up.
The race is two hours long and is a test of endurance and chair-durability in equal measure.
4. Prepare your chair.
Your chair is not allowed to have any modifications but you can grease up and adjust any existing piece you want.
Extra decorations are A-OK, too.
Prior to the race, each chair-iot is given a proper once-over to check for any funny business.
5. Pump up the crowd.
Fans line the streets to support the courageous competitors … and to watch strangers fall off office furniture.
There are even a few cheerleaders on the course to provide extra encouragement.
6. Go big or roll home.
Though it’s all in good fun, this is not a competition for the faint of heart.
There are thrills!
And hairpin turns!
7. Finish strong!
Check the scores.
Revel in the thrill of victory.
Or the agony of the seat.
Be sure to stick around to watch the winning team take home their grand prize: 90 kilograms (just over 198 pounds) of rice.
For business owners and fans alike, the ISU-1 Grand Prix is a story of perseverance and creativity.
Guests return to oft-forgotten storefronts and regular folks get to feel like pro athletes for one wild and wonderful day. There is no better (or funnier) combination.