Eyescream has a neat photo essay up on the Moonstar Manufacturing factory in Kurume, Japan. Moonstar makes pretty basic sneakers distinguished mostly by the fact that they use a traditional vulcanization method: shoe soles are bonded (glued, essentially) to uppers with a wrapped piece of rubber tape, then baked in a kiln, enabling a chemical reaction that seals the sole, tape, and upper. Before I saw the eyescream piece I don’t think I’d ever considered what a vulcanization kiln might look like. Moonstar doesn’t currently sell self-branded shoes outside of Japan, but they own/make Shoes Like Pottery and have made shoes for Stussy, for example.
Now, distinguished is a tricky word because vulcanized shoes aren’t all that unusual. Most Vans are vulcanized, for example; nearly any shoe in the aesthetic vein of Converse/Vans is vulcanized (most post-1960s sneaker designs are instead composite-material soles cemented to the upper. Yes, even if they have visible stitches, like Nike Air Force 1s or Common Projects). So I’m not sure the “unique method” argument holds up. But hey, they’re nice looking shoes, made in relatively small quantities, in a country with reasonable labor practices, and you don’t see them every day.