2008-02-23

Cry, 'Havoc!', and Let Slip the Dogs of War.

Did you know that there was a time when dogs were more revered than people in Japan?

徳川 綱吉 (Tokugawa Tsunayoshi , 1646-1709) was the fifth shogun of the Tokugawa dynasty of Japan. Some of his laws, which prohibited the harming of dogs and ordered the establishment of dog kennels, earned him the nickname of "dog shogun" or 犬公方 (Inu-Kubo.) In the 1690s and 1700s, Tsunayoshi, who (like me) was born in the Year of the Dog, thought he should take several measures concerning dogs. Edicts which told the populace to protect dogs were released every day and one could be executed for wounding a dog.

On the other hand, prior to him in the Edo period (1603-1868,) dogs were bred as fighters, including this massive mastiff known as the 土佐犬 (Tosa-inu) or sumo dog. Originally bred to hunt wild boar, the Tosa is today considered a loyal and affectionate pet that can be a guard or guide. Japan is one of the few areas in the world where it is still legal to pit dogs against one another, though this is more like a wrestling match than bloodfest. Winning sumo-dogs can raise up the ranks to the master level of Yokozuna (be sure to click that link to see a real picture of the dog, not the Kittified version.)

There are several other breeds of dogs in Japan, the most famous of which is probably the 秋田犬 (Akita-Ken.) Shibuya's most popular meeting place is the Hachiko statue, honouring the truly loyal Akita who faithfully (in my opinion, stubbornly stupid) awaited his master every day, even 10 years after the professor's death.

This manga/anime called 銀牙 流れ星銀 or Ginga Nagareboshi Gin looks intriguing. Amongst several non-Japanese breeds, it features Akita (the titular Gin as well as Riki, Fuji, Shiro) and Tosa (Musashi & half-breed Benizakura.) While I'm hunting for my Oz stuff, I may try to find it as well.)

Here is the opening...



Buddy Nori, who made his Echophonyk DJ debut last night, owns a few wiener dogs. He occasionally dresses them up in cute doggie-cosplay outfits, but if he ever dressed them up like these Samurai Dogs, he would have my utmost respect!

ps. Today's title comes from line 270, scene 1, Act III of the play "Julius Caesar"...famously uttered by Christopher Plummer as General Chang in "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country".

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