Akita dog and American history
The famous author, Helen Keller, was thought to be the first foreign celebrity who kept Akita dog as pets. Time went back to 1937; this year was the Hachiko story happened 5 years later. While Helen Keller visited Japan in 1937, she heard the touching story of Hachiko. She decided to visit Akita prefecture and had a look at the real hometown of the Akita dog.Keller loved large dogs very much. After she played with Akita dog, she expressed her desire to keep an one. A Japanese police officer Mr. Ogasawara showed his kindness, and gave Miss Keller his own as a symbol of friendship between U.S and Japan. That dog was called ‘Kamikazego’. (It has the meaning of winds from gods.) And it was believed to be the first Akita dog to be exported to foreign countries. Unfortunately, six months later Kamikazego died from distemper. She was so sad and wrote down her deep memories: ‘If ever there was an angel in fur, it was Kamikaze. I know I shall never feel quite the same tenderness for any other pet…’ After Japanese government heard the sad news they decided to give Miss Keller another Akita dog as an official gift in 1938. It was called ‘Kenzango’, who was the brother of Kamikazego.
There are two types of Akita dogs, the original Japanese Akita breed and American Akita breed. Maybe we can consider Helen Keller as the ancestor of American Akita’s breeder. During the time of allied occupation of Japan, the Akita dog was loved by many U.S soldiers. They decided to bring these dogs back to U.S. Due to American soldiers loving dogs of a larger size; it made the difference between Japanese Akitas and American Akitas. So if you google the picture of American Akitas, I’m sure you will get some spotted bear-like Akita dogs. And that is the big characteristics of American Akitas. Please don’t make mistake while seeing these two types of Akita dog!Akita dog and Asia
If we talk about China, you absolutely have the impression of a big panda. Also a specific term ‘Panda Diplomacy’ is given to describe China’s government which gives giant pandas as diplomatic gifts to other countries. It’s a kind of symbol to show the friendship between the two countries. But do you know that in 2012, Akita prefectural government gave an Akita dog to Russian president Mr. Vladimir Putin as a gift. This gift showed the thanks of Russia’s support of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Mr. Putin named this Akita dog ‘Yume’; it had the meaning of ‘Dream’. It is believed that this helped to improve the Japan-Russia relations. The birthplace place of ‘Hachiko’ and ‘Yume’ is the same; they all came from Odate city of Akita prefecture. The head office of Akitainu Introduction Foundation is located in Odate city. Due to the touching story of ‘Hachiko’, people who live in Asia all love Akita dog. Not only the famous Sibuya station has the statue of ‘Hachiko’, but Odate city also has one. Don’t forget to visit Odate city to see the real hometown of Hachiko and Yume!
Akita dog and Akita’s hunter culture
It’s believed that the ancestor of Akita dog was called the Matagi dog. The Matagi are traditional hunters of the Tohoku area of Japan and their dog was used to track some big preys, such as bear and elk. Besides the character of fierce, this kind of dog is also famous for their loyalty. There was an old folk tale which was called ‘Satoroku and Siro’ (佐多六とシロ). This story came from Kaduno city (鹿角市) located in northern Akita. At the time the tale happened the Matagi needed to have licenses so that they can cross the border to hunt. One day a Matagi whose name was Satoroku went hunting with his dog, Siro. After one gainless day, he almost wanted to give up. At the same time he found out a goat and luckily hit it. But the injured goat kept on escaping; Satoroku traced his prey across the border. After a long track he finally got it. Satoroku went back happily, at the border he was interrogated by the guard. But he found that he forgot to bring the licenses. He was caught by the guard and was told that if he can’t bring his licenses before dawn he would be executed. Satoroku told Siro to get back and help him take the license. Siro went back home. Although it was too tired to run he still tried his best and ran as fast as hes legs could run. Unfortunately, it still wasn’t fast enough to get back in time.Siro barked to the village where his owner was executed. It caused a commotion, which made executers die one by one. After the villagers heard this sad story, they tried to make appeasement and wanted to commemorate this faithful dog. They built a shrine which was called ‘Rouken-Zinzya’ (老犬神社). This shrine now is located at Odate city. Every 4/17 this shrine has a routine festival. Through this story, it is a good opportunity to learn more about the Akita dog. Siro was thought to be Matagi dog which share the same faithful characteristics to the Akita dog. Imagining the scene where Siro ran back and forth trying to save its owner’s life, was very moving. That is why why we all love the Akita dog because they are our good friends no matter when it is.