Page 5 - 2018 Issue 2
P. 5

THE AKITA — LEGEND, MYTH, HISTORY



                                                                                       —Donald W. Lusk
                                                                       Originally published in Akita World, 1982

         Thanks to a special, generous donor, ACAR owns the copyrights to the Best of the First Decade of Akita
         World magazine. This publication includes more than 300 articles as well as accompanying photographs. The
         historical value alone for the Akita breed is tremendous, and we look forward to sharing it. Currently, it is being
         digitized and the entire publication will be available for purchase once the project is complete. Complementary
         articles and photos from the publication will be included in Akita Crusader. Enjoy!


         Any effort to trace the historical origins of the Akita
         dog encounters many difficulties. The first obstacle
         one encounters is the limited research and written
         material available; secondly, the inevitable difficulty
         in securing accurate translations of such material
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         from the original Japanese ; thirdly, there is
         diversity of opinion even among that handful of
         scholars who have made a serious effort to search
         out and chronicle the facts. Though Japan offers us
         over 2,600 years of recorded history, culture, and
         civilization, the fragments of that long and colorful
         past which shed any conclusive light on the true
         origins of the Akita dog, as we know it today, are
         rare. There are but a handful of Japanese scientific
         and lay authors who over the past century have
         devoted significant effort to sorting out the origins
         and development of the Japanese type dog in
         general, and the Akita in particular — their
         conclusions and speculations are based on
         archaeological, zoological, anthropological, and
         ethnological viewpoints. Equally important are those
         studies primarily pursued through review of what
         written history has been documented by folklore
         closely identified with "Japanese dog culture." One
         of the most disciplined investigations of the origin of
         the Akita is currently being conducted by Niki
         Rhoden of Oakland, California. Hers is the only
         research of which I am aware which is based
         primarily on the biological aspects of the Akita. Her   Shintora-Go owned by Yugoro Izumi, circa 1951
         findings, when published, may prove to be highly
         surprising, and certainly more scientifically conclusive  curled tails, or if they were originally from Japan, it
         than anything yet published.                     may be assumed that they were related to the present
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             Some of the more accepted and respected      Akita Dog.  The Bronze Age of Yayoi followed the
         authorities on this subject in Japan include: Dr. Toku   Stone Age. Drawings and artifacts of this period
         Uchida, author of Inu No Hon (Book on Dogs); Dr.   picture dogs with stand-up ears and half curled tails,
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         Shosaburo Watase; Mr. Hirokichi Saito, founder of   and other distinct features of the Japanese type dog.
         Nihon-Ken, and author of Nihon No Inu To Okami   During the reign of Emperor Jinmu (660 BC), new
         (Dogs and Wolves of Japan); Dr. Noburo Sagara of   dogs were brought from China and
                                                                2
         Waseda University; Dr. Tei Uchida; Mr. Hiroyoshe   Korea.
         Saito, and Mr. Naoto Kajiwara, author of My Thoughts   From this point in history forward, there are many
         on the Akita Dog.                                and conflicting theories. However, it is generally
             It was long believed that people first migrated to   accepted that the traditional Japanese type dogs
         the Japanese Islands around 4,000 years ago,     evolved into their various distinctive forms. greatly
         bringing with them the Jomon culture of hunters.   influenced by their habitat and geographical location.
         However, more recent archaeological finds indicate   In areas where there was rapid civilization and
         that Japanese history dates further back into the   exposure to outside influences, the purity of the breed
         Stone Age. A study of reconstructed skeletal remains  tended to disappear due to much crossbreeding. In
         and fossils from the Jomon Period indicate that   general, the Japanese dogs which were declared as
         domesticated dogs first appeared during this time and  natural monuments came form the remote mountain
         were used for hunting and protection. Though it is not  areas where civilization was slow to make its inroads,
         known whether these dogs had stand-up ears and                                     (Continued on page 6)

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