"Pawprints In Japan" is an enthralling book and is sure to capture your heart and bring Hachi alive once more.
Painstakingly researched and written by long-time dog lover and Akita owner, Nicholas C. Rhoden- I was recently contacted by Linda Wroth who shared this book with me. Linda is mentioned in the Preface, and is an Akita owner who is devoted to the well being and history of the Akita dog.
The book is a greatly expanded collection of four award winning articles previously published in The Akita Journal. Each of the original articles won "Best Article of the Year in a Single-Breed Magazine," awarded by the Dog Writers Association of America.
The first chapter is "Hachi-ko, the Loyal Dog—and the Forgotten Story of an American Tribute". I learned many details about Hachiko's life prior to his death- the kindness of Dr. Ueno's (Hachiko's owner) former gardener, Mr. Kikuzaburo Kobayashi and by the Director of Shibuya Station, Mr. Chuichi Yoshikawa.
We learn about Hachi's daily life and health issues including why his left ear drooped. Prior to Hachi becoming famous, the shopkeepers and locals were generally indifferent towards him. An exception was the famous stage and screen star Yoshiko Kawada who would visit him as a friend. Learn how Hachiko became known as the protector of the "underdog"!
Included are rare photos of Hachi and a map of Tokyo showing the exact spots that Hachi frequented. We can see the actual distance from Shibuya Station, Profesor's Ueno's home, the University, Hachiko's grave site, and other locations of interest. Through this visual, we get a clearer picture of Hachi's everyday life and devotion.
Numerous little known details of Hachiko's life is uncovered. On Sunday, April 14th, the Los Angeles Times reported a ceremony attended by the ex-mayor of Los Angeles, Consul General of Japan Mr. Tomokazu Hori and a little girl named Elizabeth Hansen at St. Mary's Japanese Episcopal Church.
In honor of Hachiko, Elizabeth led a famous Airedale named Kentucky Boy lll (the most decorated dog in the US, he was the recipient of 16 medals for heroism) to the platform and officially turned over the containers of pennies, nickels and dimes contributed by American and Japanese-American school children all over the Southland.
The other three chapters are equally fascinating: "Helen Keller: Saint of Three Burdens and the Forgotten Story of Her Akitas—First in America", "Myths and Legends of the Dog in Ancient Japan: Demon or Demi-God?" and "Taro and Jiro: The Never-to-Be-Forgotten Story of an Incredible Survival—and the Untold Story of an Omen".
A special treat is the over 70 fascinating photographs of Hachiko, Helen Keller with her Akitas, and Taro and Jiro- the courageous dogs of the Antarctica dog sled team with an incredible survival tale.
You can purchase "Pawprints in Japan" from the Akita Club of America. The ACA store is located at this link. The price per book is $25.00 plus shipping and handling.
Reading this book made me feel even more respectful of Hachiko, the loyal dog of Japan.
Vicki Shigekuni Wong
I first spotted Hachiko's statue many years ago at Shibuya Station. Upon returning home, I adopted a dog and named him Hachi. When he passed away, I missed his reflective, welcoming and calm ways. We can all learn from the innate emotional grace of our animal friends and the Way of Hachi. I love sharing the story of the loyal dog of Japan, and hope he inspires more people to "Be Hachi"!