Not just “Hachiko”! The story of Japan’s “loyal dog statue”

Not just Hachiko The story of Japan's loyal dog statue

Not just “Hachiko”! The story of Japan’s “loyal dog statue”

The National Institute of Polar Research’s Antarctic and Polar Science Museum stands in a corner of an area lined with research facilities, a 5-minute walk from Tachikawa City Hall. In the garden of the facility where you can experience the results of research in the Antarctic and Arctic conducted by the adjacent National Institute of Polar Research, there is a statue of 15 Sakhalin dogs. This monument commemorates the dogs who were left behind in Antarctica and died during the first Antarctic expedition (1957-58) (banner photo).

The Karaft dog is a breed of dog that was developed in Sakhalin (Sakhalin) and the Kuril Islands. They have been kept as working dogs in Hokkaido since ancient times because they can tolerate temperatures of -40 degrees, are obedient to humans, are strong, and can go without eating for about two weeks.

When it was decided to use dog sleds using pink dogs for Antarctic research, about 40 dogs were selected from the approximately 1,000 dogs in Hokkaido at the time and trained, and 22 elite dogs were dispatched to the Antarctic together with the first wintering team.

However, in February 1958, the landing of the second wintering party in Antarctica was suddenly canceled due to bad weather, and the 15 calaf dogs chained inside the Showa base when the first party pulled out were left alone. I get left behind.

The following year, in January 1959, the soldiers who returned to the base cried out in admiration. Two of the 15 animals were able to escape from their chains and survive. They are “Taro” and “Jiro”. The miraculous episode was made into a movie called “Antarctic Story” and became a hot topic overseas.

(Left) The statues of Taro and Jiro are also in front of the Antarctic research ship “Fuji” preserved and exhibited at Nagoya Port. (Right) Taro (left) and Jiro (right) in Antarctica Current Affairs

Seven of the animals were found dead in chains, and the remaining six were reported missing. However, nine years later, in 1968, a carcass was found in the melting snow near Showa Air Base. In addition to Taro and Jiro, there was a “third dog” who had broken away from the chain and lived around the base for a while.

Mr. Taiichi Kitamura, who was the “dog handler” of the first wintering party and the only member who was able to reunite with Tarojiro, said that with the help of newspaper reporter Hiroshi Kaetsu, in 2020, “The Third Dog” ” was identified as “Riki,” and they came to the conclusion that Riki was protecting Taro and Jiro. Their steady verification work is detailed in “Nobody Knows the Dog’s Name” (written by Hiroshi Kaetsu, supervised by Taiichi Kitamura, published by Shogakukan Shueisha Productions).

The monument to the 15 animals was installed at the entrance to Tokyo Tower in September 1959 by the Japan Animal Welfare Association. Later, it was removed due to maintenance projects around Tokyo Tower, and in 2013, it was donated and relocated to the National Institute of Polar Research. They have returned to the Antarctic expedition team for the first time in about half a century.

Some dogs howl sadly, while others lie huddled together. I wonder if they are waiting for the wintering crew to return, thinking of the nostalgic scenery of their hometown of Hokkaido.

(Left) The 15 bronze statues were created by Takeshi Ando, ​​who also created the statue of the faithful dog Hachiko in front of Shibuya Station in Tokyo. Photo: Hisaki Amano (Right) When they were installed at the entrance of Tokyo Tower. Colorful Dog Statue Current Affairs

The Antarctic and Arctic Science Museum opened in 2010. Enjoy learning about the polar regions through the Aurora Theater and actual exhibits of Antarctic ice, meteorites, etc. (Left) A snowmobile that traveled 5,200km round trip from Showa Station to the South Pole in 1968-69 (Right) Before snowmobiles became popular Dog sleds were used. Photo = Hisaki Amano.

Bunko, a firefighting dog who played an active role at the scene of a fire (Otaru City, Hokkaido)

Otaru City has a nostalgic atmosphere with its brick warehouses and stone pavements, and still conveys the charm of a port city from the Meiji to Taisho eras. There is a bronze statue of a dog in front of the Old Otaru Warehouse, which stands along the Otaru Canal, about a 10-minute walk from Otaru Station. Its name is “Bunko”. It is one of Otaru’s tourist attractions, where tourists come to take commemorative photos.

Bunko statue standing at the entrance of the Old Otaru Warehouse built in 1893 PIXTA

Bunko is a mongrel male dog that was kept at the Otaru fire department headquarters in the early Showa era (1910s to 1930s). When a fire engine was dispatched, he was the first to board and stand on the steps as he headed toward the scene. Has been dispatched over 1000 times. Stories of his bravery, such as how he chased away hecklers at a fire scene, held a hose in his mouth, and handed it to the team members, were reported across the country through newspapers, magazines, and radio.

When you say, “Get on!”, he jumps onto the steps of the fire truck, and when you give him the command, “get off!”, he gets off right away. Photo provided by Otaru City Fire Department Headquarters

He passed away on February 3, 1938, surrounded by many people. He passed away at the age of 24. In human terms, he was 100 years old. You can trace his life as a dog in the picture book “Firefighter Dog Bunko” (written by Tadashi Mizuguchi, illustrated by Ayuta Kaji, published by Bunkeido).

Otaru used to have many wooden houses, and many large-scale fires occurred there. For this reason, improvements were made to firefighting systems, and stone buildings began to be built. It was around that time that Bunko became active.

When he was a puppy, he was found crying in the ruins of a fire and was rescued by a firefighter, who brought him to the fire department headquarters. He loved to wear a hat and was a clever dog who would go to the vet by himself when he was sick.

In 2006, on the 68th anniversary of Bunko’s death, a fundraising campaign was started to build a memorial led by members of the fire department. In July of the same year, a bronze statue was completed in the square in front of the former Otaru Warehouse. Since then, the stylish “Bun-chan” dolls, dressed in various scarves, mufflers, and costumes to match the seasons and events, have been a delight to visitors.

Rieko Yoshida from the Otaru Tourism Association helps people change their clothes, takes photos, and posts them on social media. “We have scarves and bandanas in spring and fall, happi coats in summer for Otaru’s traditional Ushio Festival, woolen sweaters and scarves in winter, and we even have Christmas versions. Citizens donate them.” says Yoshida.

There is another place in Otaru where you can meet Bunko. This is the Otaru City Museum Canal Hall, which is adjacent to the former Otaru Warehouse. A stuffed Bunko is on display, and you can come face-to-face with Bunko, who has white fur with brown spots and slightly floppy ears.

Takata wearing a floral scarf given by a citizen. Photo: Rieko Yoshida.

(Left) Every year on February 3rd, the anniversary of Bunko’s death, citizens donate caramel, his favorite food. Photo = Rieko Yoshida (Right) Bunko’s taxidermy on display at the Otaru City Museum Canal Hall Photo Provided by: Otaru City Museum

“Visiting Ise” on behalf of the master – substitute dog “Okage Inu” (Ise City, Mie Prefecture)

Ise Grand Shrine, affectionately known as “Oise-san,” is the head of the approximately 80,000 shrines in Japan. There is a popular photo spot in front of the long-established souvenir shop “Isesekiya Honten,” which is located on the approach to the Geku shrine.

It is a bronze statue of a child holding a ladle astride a dog.It is titled “Hishaku Doji.”

There is an introductory text on the pedestal by the creator, sculptor Satoshi Yabuuchi.

“Since ancient times, people have dreamed of visiting the shrine, but it was dog representatives who fulfilled the wishes of those who were unable to actually visit the shrine.A dog with a ladle on its back, protected by many good intentions, It is said that he continued on his way.The child sitting astride a dog is a symbol of a kind heart.

Statue of “Hashiku Doji” in front of “Isesekiya Main Store” (from Isesekiya official website)

In the Edo period, when the 53 Stations of the Tokaido Road were established, the “Ise Shrine” became a major event that every commoner dreamed of “once in a lifetime,” and it became a phenomenon that became popular once every 60 years. get up. It was called “Okage-mairi” because it was about receiving blessings from the gods.

The “Okage Inu” visited Ise in place of its owner who was unable to visit Ise due to illness or other reasons. A dog carrying a ladle on its back headed for Ise Grand Shrine alone.

According to “Dogs visiting Ise Shrine” (written by Kunio Nishina, published by Heibonsha Shinsho), surrogate dogs first appeared in literature in 1771. A priest at Ise Shrine wrote that the pet dog of Zenbei Takada from Yamashiro Province (Kyoto Prefecture) visited the Geku and Naiku shrines and received amulets.

After that, dogs continued to visit Ise Shrine. Behind Junenji Fudo-do Hall in Sukagawa City, Fukushima Prefecture, there is a statue of a dog named Shiro who received amulets from Ise Shrine on behalf of his sick owner during the Kansei era (1789-1801).

The dog was wearing a wooden tag showing its owner’s address and that it was an Ise Daisen dog, as well as money tied to a string around its neck.

Of course, there is no way a dog could go to Ise Grand Shrine, which he has never seen before, on his own. In reality, there was a “support system” called “mura-okuri,” in which people were guided by people along the road and sent from village to village. At that time, it was believed that if you treated Okage-inu well, you would gain merit for yourself, and there were almost no people who would steal money from dogs.

By the way, there is a dog named Okage who walked a round trip of 2,400 km from Tsugaru Kuroishi (Aomori Prefecture) to Ise Grand Shrine over a period of three years, which is considered the record for a dog’s long-distance solo trip in Japan.

In Hiroshige Utagawa’s ukiyo-e “Yokkaichi Hinaga Village Oiwake Sangu Road”, an Okage dog is depicted in front of the torii gate.

Even in the Meiji period, dogs could still be seen visiting Ise Shrine, although their numbers had decreased. However, the situation changed completely when the domestic dog regulations introduced in Tokyo in 1873 spread across the country and the management of domestic dogs became stricter. After that, messages from Okage-inu ceased to exist.

However, 150 years later, the Okage dog is once again making headlines. Okage Yokocho, located in the middle of Ise Shrine’s Inner Shrine Monzencho, offers a popular experience service where your dog can dress up as an Okage dog. You walk around with a shimenawa rope and a purse tied around your dog’s neck, and as a bonus you receive a wooden tag to ward off epidemics.

(Left) “Okage Inu” strolling through “Okage Yokocho,” which recreates the townscape from the Edo to Meiji periods. (Right) “Okage Inu Strap,” a popular souvenir. Photo courtesy of Okage Yokocho.

Chirori, a rescue dog who became Japan’s first therapy dog ​​(Chuo-ku, Tokyo)

Ginza, Tokyo, is a place where business people and tourists come and go. There is a bronze statue of a mother and her dog in Chuo Ward Tsukijigawa Ginza Park, which is a 5-minute walk from Tokyo Metro Ginza Station and near Kabukiza. This is a memorial to Chirori, a rescue dog who became Japan’s first therapy dog, and her puppies.

Tirori’s monument stands at the entrance to Tsukijigawa Ginza Park, near the elderly care facility where she once worked as a therapy dog. Photo by Hisaki Amano

Therapy dogs are dogs that interact with patients and the elderly in medical and nursing care settings, contributing to their physical and mental care. Numerous effects have been reported, including stabilizing the mind, improving dementia, and promoting recovery from the aftereffects of cerebral infarction.

In the summer of 1992, Tirori was saved from being euthanized at an animal welfare center by Toru Oki, a musician and founder of the International Therapy Dog Association. The story from then until it became a therapy dog ​​is detailed in Oki’s book “Meiken Chirori” (Iwasaki Shoten).

Chiroli was an abandoned mixed-breed dog, and despite her handicap of having a disability in her right leg, she devoted 12 years of her life to treating the elderly and vulnerable until her death in the spring of 2006. His biggest charm is his “loving eyes.” Through gentle eye contact and looking into the eyes of others, he endeavored to care for the hearts of many hurting people.

“Famous Dog Chirori” by Toru Oki

Chiroli’s story has so far been featured in five textbooks and published in books both domestically and internationally.

As they worked hard at rehabilitation with the desire to touch Chirori, there were some who regained the use of their hands, who were able to speak, who regained their will to live, and even a junior high school student who overcame his refusal to attend school… . There are countless episodes.

However, Oki says that Chirori’s greatest legacy was that she paved the way for abandoned dogs like herself to live as therapy dogs.

“At the hospital I visited after the Great East Japan Earthquake, everyone knew about the existence of therapy dogs and welcomed me warmly.If your dog had been washed away by the tsunami, you might want to hold a photo of your dog while visiting a therapy dog. I was hugging him tightly.”

At the International Therapy Dog Association, former rescue dogs who have mastered more than 45 curriculums over two and a half years of training wear green vests with the Red Cross symbol and travel to nursing homes, hospitals, children’s facilities, and prisons across the country. , delivering healing and energy to disaster-stricken areas.

“I’ve been waiting for you,” says Sotoyoshi Hasegawa (right) as he touches Chirori. Encouraged by Chirori, he worked hard at rehabilitation, and made a recovery from a level of nursing care level 5 to standing on his own (Toru Oki on the left) Photo provided by International Therapy Dog Association

Eiko Nakazato has a mild brain injury and has been unable to move her limbs since falling at home. At the beginning of the therapy session, she just stared at Chiroli (left), but soon she was smiling broadly. Photo courtesy of the International Therapy Dog Association.

──There are many other popular statues of loyal dogs and beloved dogs across the country. Let me introduce some of them below.

[Statue of loyal dog Shiro at Old Dog Shrine] Odate City, Akita Prefecture. During the Edo period, when his owner, Matagi Sadoroku, was imprisoned for hunting without carrying a hunting license, Shiro worked hard to save his master from being executed. It is enshrined as an old dog that prays for the safety of the family, and many dog ​​toys are dedicated to it.

[Rakugo “Moto Inu” Statue] Taito Ward, Tokyo. A dog statue is enshrined in front of the torii gate of Kuramae Shrine, as if worshiping at the main shrine. Shiro, who was originally a dog, made a wish at this shrine. It was built in 2010 in honor of the classic rakugo story about how people became human because of it.

[Statue of Takamori Saigo] Taito Ward, Tokyo. Near the entrance to Ueno Park is a statue of Takamori Saigo, one of the leading figures of the Meiji Restoration, and his beloved dog. Created by sculptor Koun Takamura. Saigo was known as a dog lover, and there is a legend that he fed his favorite food, eel, to his dogs.

[Guide dog Saab statue] Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture, Gujo City, Gifu Prefecture. German Shepherd “Saab” is a guide dog who lost his front legs after being hit by a car to protect his owner. In 1983, the year after the accident, a children’s book titled Ganbare! “Guide Dog Serve” was published and became a bestseller.

[Monument of Gon, the guide dog of Mt. Koya] Kudoyama Town, Wakayama Prefecture. Koyasan is famous as a sacred place founded by Kobo Daishi (Kukai). A monument of “Gon” that guided pilgrims who got off at Kudoyama Station, the gateway to the temple, to Jison-in, the temple of Kobo Daishi’s mother.

[Monument to the blind dog Dan] Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture. A statue of “Dan” on the premises of Shiomi Elementary School. The students find an abandoned blind puppy, but due to school rules they are unable to keep it. However, the children’s love for living things and compassion for those with disabilities finally moved the adults…

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