Page 6 - 2018 Issue 2
P. 6

(Continued from page 5)                           branch of the organization was founded in Los
                                                           Angeles in 1969.
         and where the relative purity of dog breeds were      Nipponken Hozonkai (Nippo) was established in
         maintained. 3                                     1928, and Akitainu Kyokai (Akikyo) was established in
             There are seven breeds of Japanese dogs that   1948.
         were declared as natural monuments and named          Each of the three aforementioned organizations
         according to their place of origin. They were also   has developed its own Akita Breed Standard and
         classified by sizes into the large, medium and small   maintains an independent Akita Registry.
         dogs. The large dog is the Akita, from the Odate area.   One of the most significant events in the
         There is no other known large Japanese dog surviving  restoration and preservation of the Akita was the
         today. 3                                          tremendous attention commanded throughout Japan
             The Name Akita-Inu (Akita Dog) was not used   and the entire world by the moving story of an Akita
         until September 1931, at which time the Akita was   dog named Hachi-Ko. No dog before or since has so
         designated as a national monument. Prior to that time,  touched the hearts of people everywhere.
         dogs from the Odate Region were called "Odate         In November 1923, a puppy was born in Akita
         Dogs." During the Feudal Period, these dogs were   Prefecture which showed great promise of being of
         called the "Nambu­Inu” (Southern Regional Dog).   true Akita type. At the age of two months, it was sent
         Those dogs which were used for fighting purposes   to Professor Eizaburo Ueno in Tokyo, who had long
         were called "Kuriya-Inu" while those used for hunting   coveted a fine Akita dog. The professor named the
         by the mountain villagers were called "Matagi-Inu."   puppy Hachi and called him Hachi-Ko. At that time,
         The word Matagi refers to hunter.                 Professor Ueno's residence was in a suburb of Tokyo
             Thus, since ancient times, Japanese dogs were   in the vicinity of Shibuya Station, and he commuted by
         named according to their locale, or their roles as   train from that station to the agricultural experimental
                             3
         domesticated animals.                             station at Nishikebara where he worked. Hachi-Ko
             It seems clear that the direct forebearers of the   accompanied his master in the morning and in the
         Akita as we know it today were native to Akita    evening as he went to and from work. On May 21,
         Prefecture, the northernmost province on the main   1925, when Hachi-Ko was one and a half years old,
         Japanese Island of Honshu. The historical epicenter of  he was at Shibuya Station as usual, waiting for his
         present day Akita Prefecture is the city of Odate.   master's arrival on the four o'clock train. Professor
             There have been several organizations evolved in  Ueno would, in fact, never arrive, as he had been
         Japan which have contributed significantly to the   struck down by a fatal stroke at the university that day.
         preservation and restoration of the Akita.        Hachi-Ko was cared for by relatives and friends of the
             During the Dog Fighting Era of the Meiji Period   family, but he continued to go to Shibuya Station each
         (1868-1912), there was a dog fighting club called   day to await his master's arrival. Hachi-Ko's vigil
         Enyukai. The Aiken Kyokai was another dogfighting   continued until March 8, 1935, when at the age of
         club formed during the Taisho Period (1912-1925).    twelve years and five months he died, still waiting in
             Akitainu Hozonkai, the largest and most dominant  vain for the return of his beloved master.
         Akita Club in Japan today, was established in 1927. A   Fiction could not have given rise to such a
                                                           moving story of fidelity, courage, and a dog's love of
                                                           man. Response throughout Japan, and indeed the
                                                           whole world, was spontaneous, as eulogies and warm
                                                           words of condolence poured into Japan from young
                                                           and old, rich and poor.
                                                               Today, commuters through Shibuya Station in
                                                           Tokyo still must pass the imposing statue of Hachi-Ko,
                                                           erected in loving memory of that venerable dog. His
                                                           proud figure, sculp­tured in bronze and set high on a
                                                           granite block, stands as mute evidence of the place in
                                                           Japan's cultural and social history occupied by the
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                                                           Akita dog.
                                                               No story of the Akita would be complete without
                                                           mention of the rather extraordinary circumstances
                                                           surrounding the first Akita to come to America. Years
                                                           before the Akita caught the eye and the fancy of
                                                           American military occupation personnel in Japan
                                                           following World War II, a famous American woman
                                                           discovered and learned to love the unique character
                                                           and qualities of this magnificent breed. What must
                                                           have enraptured her most were the spiritual rather
                                                           than the physical characteristics of the Akita, for she
                                                           had been blind since birth.
                                                               Helen Keller, world-famous scholar – lecturer –
          A female, Akita in the Odate area, circa 1928    author – educator – humanitarian, first visited the
                                                                                             (Continued on page 7)


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