Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Niiice doggy ...
Today, I was going through a box of miscellany that I brought back with me after my years in Japan. I was looking for something I want to feature in an upcoming blog post, and I came across these photos.
They're of Tosa-ken, a breed of Japanese fighting dog that can weigh more than 150 pounds. They're ranked just like sumo wrestlers and, like their human counterparts, their matches consist of trying to power each other out of a circular ring, but with the (not so) occasional bite thrown in for good measure (something they must've learned from Mike Tyson).
Highly ranked doggies get to wear the same sort of decorative aprons that human sumo stars wear.
They're named after Tosa, a former province on Shikoku --the smallest of Japan's four main islands and my favorite part of the country. Fighting roosters with super-long tail feathers also are bred there.
And you thought Japanese culture was all about genteel things like the tea ceremony and gentle things like origami.
In Tosa, people don't mess around. (Actually, Tosa, now called Kochi prefecture, is an exceedingly cool place, and the hospitality is wonderful. Just don't mess with their dogs. Or their roosters.)
There was a Tosa-ken kennel about a half-hour drive down the road from my house in rural Chiba prefecture, east of Tokyo. A teacher colleague of mine told me the kennel was run by yakuza -- Japanese gangsters -- but the staff seemed nice enough to me. They told me to take photos to my heart's content, something I would think gangsters would discourage.