The Akita Inu’s exact origins remain unknown although its history as a breed can be traced back some 350 years ago and as a type to about 500BC through skeletal remains and carbon dating. The Akita was known as the Odate dog; named after the rugged mountainous area of Odate in the prefecture of Akita, on the island of Honshu. Inu translates to dog in Japanese.
The Akita is the largest of the eight dogs regarded as being indigenous to Japan and throughout its turbulent past the Akita Inu has been used to hunt ducks, birds, small furbearing animals, deer, elk, antelope, monkeys, boar and bear (including the 800 lb Yezo bear).
The Akita eventually came to be used as cattle herders and seeing eye dogs, sled dogs and as Police dogs. They were also used to baby sit youngsters while their mothers worked in the fields.
The first Akita arrived in Australia in 1982 into South Australia (see Shokuma Akitas website click on Kyooma – The Pioneers).
The Akita is an irresistible attention getting and personified all the enigmatic character of the Orient. Your first impression is that of an immensely powerful and imposing animal with massive chest and head, suggestive of a bear. It is possessed of a dignity of expression that defies description.
The Akita is declared a natural monument, and is named according to their place of origin. The name Akita-Inu was not used until it was declared a natural monument in September 1931.
The Faithful “Hachiko”
The moving story of a dog called Hachiko has moved the entire world and has touched the hearts of people everywhere.
Actual inscription on the base
of the statue of Hachiko”
Hachiko was born in Akita in November 1923. He was brought to Tokyo in January 1924 and was kept by Mr Eisaburo Uyeno, who then held the Chair of Professorship in the Department of Agriculture at the Imperial University.
Mr Uyeno was very kind to Hachi and the dog reciprocated in such a way that they became great friends. When Hachi grew up he became a fine specimen of a large size Japanese breed. He had a fine cream coloured coat with pointed ears and a curly tail, standing two fee tall and weighing 92 pounds.
It was Hachi’s custom to accompany his master every morning wet or fine to the Shibuya Station and wait for his return in the afternoon when the master and the dog would happily come home together.
This friendship lasted until one day in May 1925. On that day Hachi saw his master disappear among the crowd in the usual way at Shibuya Station, but that was the last he saw of him, for the master was taken ill while at work and died before he was brought home. The sad event occurred when Hachi was just over 16 months old, but Hachi never forgot his master. Hachi went daily after that to Shibuya Station, apparently in the hope of find Mr Uyeno.
Sometimes he would stay there for several days without returning home at all. The patient search lasted until March 8, 1934, when Hachi died on the very spot where he saw his master last. However, even before Hachi’s death, people who saw the pathetic figure of his faithful creature growing old day by day were so deeply moved by the sight that they decided to erect a statue in memory of this noble animal.
In April 1934 a beautiful bronze statue executed by the famous sculptor, Mr Ando Teru, was erected in front of the Shibuya Station, but in 1945 this statue was regrettably taken down by order of the Army and was later melted down for making was weapons.
Soon after the end of the war a plan for re-erecting the statue was contemplated and it was then decided to entrust the making of the new statue to Mr Ando Takeshi, son of Mr Ando Teru, who unfortunately was killed in one of the air raids during the war.
The new statue is similar in size and shape to the old one and it will no doubt be instrumental in perpetuating the sweet memory of faithful Hachiko.