Reub's journey

20 August 2012

Dogs of Japan


"Haniwa," A terracotta tomb figurine-dog from 6th century Japan, Tokyo National Museum

When we travel abroad, I always miss Ed and Reub (not the blog, but the dogs) so I end up photographing other peoples' dogs. The trip to Japan in June and July was no exception. They say the Japanese are pet-crazy, so I figured there would be lots of photo opps.  Plus, we were headed straight for Akita Prefecture, the birthplace of the Akita Inu, a breed of spitz fighting dogs.



Faithful Hachikō's statue outside of Shibuya Station: it's the meeting place where thousands of people go every day to wait for friends. Every person in this picture is doing that very thing.

Perhaps you know the true story of Hachikō, Japan's most famous Akita? Here it is, well-stated, from Wikipedia:

He was born in 1923 and owned by Professor Hidesaburō Ueno of Tokyo.[12] Professor Ueno lived near the Shibuya Train Station in a suburb of the city and commuted to work every day on the train. Hachikō accompanied his master to and from the station each day. On May 25, 1925, when the dog was 18 months old, he waited for his master's arrival on the four o'clock train. But he waited in vain; Professor Ueno had suffered a fatal stroke at work. Hachikō continued to wait for his master's return. He traveled to and from the station each day for the next nine years. He allowed the professor's relatives to care for him, but he never gave up the vigil at the station for his master. His vigil became world renowned when, in 1934, shortly before his death, a bronze statue was erected at the Shibuya train station in his honor... eventually, Hachikō's legendary faithfulness became a national symbol of loyalty, particularly to the person and institution of the Emperor.




Odate, Akita Prefecture, is Hachikō's birthplace & all of the manhole covers bear this design.


However, it was days before I saw an actual dog. Where were they?


Could it have something to do with the fact that the dog population of Japan was decimated by World War II? The famine of those years caused dogs to be slaughtered for their meat, their pelts donated to the military. It was illegal to own anything but a German Shepherd. There were very few Akitas left by the end of that war, and many of the survivors were taken back to the US by American soldiers.



At last I saw a real live Akita. In Akita! Happy day.



Still, there were more  canine pictures than actual dogs. This pup was on a forest fire awareness sign, kind of like Smokey the Bear.





Saigo Takamori, the "last samurai" and his dog: a statue in Ueno Park, Tokyo. It is said that the dog  is included in order to soften the image of Takamori, the warrior-poet-politician who committed suicide at the end of the Edo period.




"ADA BAT
You must be udabut life.
Believe my ability."

I lacked the nerve to ask this guy for the shirt off his back.



OK. Now for some real live dogs-of-Japan:


Turns out that dogs are quite expensive. This puppy, for sale in a Tokyo pet shop, cost  $2,400.00.




A little white dog (Maltese?) accompanying a shop-owner to work in Kyoto's Inari shrine.





A lovely black lab, also at work with her owner.




A Pomeranian out for a stroll.



A West Highland terrier at work, pretty comfy on his rug, and taking up a whole booth.






A Kyoto man wearing a traditional summer kimono, with his Corgi on the Philosopher's Walk.




And that's an iPhone attached to his obi.

29 comments:

  1. i had heard the tale of that dog and the subway before. i like the manhole covers.

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    Replies
    1. Every city had its own emblem on the manhole covers. I thought that was pretty cool.

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  2. Fun and informative post. Our last pooch was a Corgi. They always make me smile when I see one.

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    1. The first corgis I ever saw looked so odd with those short little legs. But I've grown to love them; they have wonderful personalities, and when we were in Ireland I saw them at work, herding cattle.

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  3. that's nice to see that some of Japan's population is still comfortable in their cultural clothes, western dress has just taken over the world, but that's no reason for him to be out of the loop!

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    1. Ellen, I loved seeing the traditional dress making a comeback in Japan. It was most noticeable in Kyoto, but there was some of it in Tokyo also. The iPhone made me laugh.

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  4. Beautiful pics of some adorable dogs!

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  5. My husband wanted an Akita for the longest time. I'm glad we never got one because of the shedding factor, but they are beautiful dogs. Loved seeing all the different dogs of Japan. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Akitas are gorgeous, loyal, and wonderful family dogs. But they aren't easy around other dogs & can be overly protective, serious animals. I'm not sure I would want one. The puppies are undeniably irresistible.

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  6. Hmm! Quite an interesting collection of dogs. You call them Dogs of Japan. During World War 2 Americans called them Japanese Dogs :)

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  7. I was in school in the early 60's when the then Japanese Crown Prince Akihito married commoner "Michiko" . This marriage made waves world over and was one of most romantic stories of that era ! Now of course Akihito is the Emperor & Michiko the Empress - more figureheads without any real power.

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    1. RR: Oh wow, I hadn't thought of that twist of words. You just don't hear the term "Japanese dogs" except for in old movies maybe.

      Time flies. When I was there I completely forgot about the royal family!

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  8. Hi Kerry

    I have tagged for Capture the Colors contest. For details please visit
    http://sankriti.blogspot.in/2012/08/capture-colors-contest.html

    Regards Ram

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    Replies
    1. I'll check it out. Might be a good exercise for my meme blog.

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  9. Wow, what an expensive dog. I never pay for a dog. I adopt and get what I get. :)

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    1. We saw people collecting money for an animal shelter. I wonder how prevalent shelters are in Japan, and what it costs to adopt.

      I was surprised at the cost of the puppy too, but then, Japan is an expensive country in general.

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  10. Replies
    1. It's a great story, Laoch.

      I wonder how you managed that little line over the "o"? I need to learn my keyboard better.

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    2. In this case I got it from the character set in microsoft word. They can also be prodcued as described below:

      http://www.nouilles.info/keyboard_shortcuts.html

      http://www.ehow.com/info_8514848_list-hidden-symbols-keyboard.html

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    3. When I have a few minutes I'm going to go back and add the line in Hachiko.

      Thank you.

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    4. Egads! My Mac option gave me a theta sign, and then I found out I had to activate an extended keyboard under systems preferences to get this symbol, which is called a macron accent. It was quicker and easier to insert the symbol in html. ( ō if you're interested) So I did it. Now it won't bother me anymore.

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    5. HAHA! I can't type the code, even in a comment, because it makes the damn symbol!

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  11. Fantastic. Foxes and dogs. These are things about Japan most people don't post about. Very cool.

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  12. The prevalence of foxes and the low number of dogs: I had to write about it.:)

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  13. Since Benno's gone, I see (and talk to) dogs everywhere. Everybody seems to be out walking their dogs.

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    Replies
    1. Benno has left a big space behind him. I'm glad that there are dogs for you to notice and greet.

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