Home > Publications > NDL Newsletter > No. 217, April 2018

National Diet Library Newsletter

No. 217, April 2018

Small exhibition in the Kansai-kan (23)
Every dog has his book—From history to research and stories—


<<Exhibition Poster>>

Dogs have been wonderful companions of humans since ancient times. The 23rd small exhibition held at the Kansai-kan from February 22 to March 20, 2018 featured a variety of perspectives on the relationship between dogs and humans.

Dogs were the first animals to be domesticated. This led to the development of modern species of dogs, which are beloved by and have significant effect on humans.

This exhibition includes roughly 100 different materials that shed light on the close relationship between dogs and humans and present a glimpse of the history of that relationship, the various traits that dogs have acquired through domestication, how the lifestyles of both dogs and humans have changed, biological and medical studies of dogs, how guide dogs, police dogs, performing dogs, and other dogs work with human partners, and how dogs have been illustrated in literary and artistic works from around the world and throughout the ages.

In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the exhibited materials. A list of all exhibited materials is available on the NDL website in Japanese.

Gone to the dogs

(1) Kawasaki, Kyosen. Omocha junishi (Old Japanese Toys Based on the Chinese Zodiac). Darumaya Shoten, 1918–19, 2 vols., NDL Call No. 403-112. * Available in the NDL Digital Collections

This woodblock print is included in Omocha junishi, a book made of washi and bound Japanese-style, comprising twelve woodblock prints of toy animals based on the twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac. The author, Kawasaki Kyosen, was born in Sakai, near Osaka, and was an apprentice of the ukiyo-e artist Nakai Yoshitaki. Kawasaki’s pictures of toys were quite popular throughout the Meiji, Taisho, and Showa periods. The exhibit includes 15 different toys illustrated in vivid color. The picture above depicts bobble-head dolls, clay dolls made in Fushimi, Kyoto, amulets from Hokkeji Temple in Nara, and so on.


<<Kawasaki, Kyosen. Kyosen omochaeshu (Collected Illustrations of Toys by Kyosen).
Omochae Hangakai, 1918–19, 17 vols., NDL Call No. 422-29.
* Available in the NDL Digital Collections >>

Dogs as pets

(2) Takahashi, Torao. Inu no kaikata (How to Keep Dogs as Pets). Bunka Seikatsu Kenkyukai, 1926, NDL Call No. 564-72. * Available in the NDL Digital Collections

In 1925, Tokyo Broadcasting Station (precursor to today’s Japan Broadcasting Corporation, known as NHK) aired a program on how to keep dogs as pets. It was extremely well received, and the following year was published in book form with a wide range of information, including breeds of dogs, training methods, feeding habits, living environment, and diseases. The table of contents lists many quaintly worded topics, like "How to get rid of roundworms, the scourge of puppies?" and "How long before my dog is old enough to go to school?" The author, Takahashi Torao, also did research into how dogs communicate and in the final chapter explains differences in meaning between whining, howling, barking, and other forms of canine expression.

Studying dogs

(3) Ishibashi, Teru, et al., editors. Inu o kagaku suru (The Scientific Study of Dogs). Yokendo, 2017, NDL Call No. RB651-L303.

This is an easy-to-understand, general publication explaining canine studies, based on the activities of the Shodobutsu eiyo kenkyukai (Society of Dietetic Research for Small Animals). It broadly covers topics helpful for a deepened understanding of dogs, such as the history of dogs, genetic inheritance, breeds, breeding situations, body structure, behavior and cognitive system, health and disease, food, and welfare. The final chapter, entitled "What dog owners need to know—Q&A," is also helpful for those interested in canine studies.

Working dogs

(4) Weisbord, Merrily, and Kim Kachanoff. Hataraku inutachi (Dogs with Jobs). Translated by Sakura Yae, Chuokoronshinsha, 2003, NDL Call No. RB651-H51.

This book tells the stories of 21 different kinds of dogs engaged in a variety of jobs in places throughout North America, Europe, and Africa. The working day of each dog is illustrated documentary style. Some of the dogs perform relatively well known jobs, such as seeing-eye dogs and other types of service for the disabled. Also included are an Italian lifeguard dog that dives into water from helicopters to save people from drowning, a fire investigation dog in the UK that helps solve crimes by detecting the source of a fire by scent, and other dogs that perform duties with their human partners. Included in the descriptions of the dogs' jobs are explanations of training methods based on the traits and characteristics of the dogs and techniques for fostering mutual trust.

Illustrating dogs


<<Wakan meiga sen (Selected Works of Art from Japan and China).
Edited by Murayama Jungo, 2nd ed., Kokkasha, 1917, NDL Call No. 404-58イ * Available in the NDL Digital Collections >>

(5) Kamisaka, Sekka. Momoyogusa (Chrysanthemums). vol. 2, Yamada Unsodo, 1909, NDL Call No. 406-32. * Available in the NDL Digital Collections

This book, entitled Momoyogusa (Chrysanthemums), is a collection of pattern designs in multi-color woodblock prints by Kamisaka Sekka. A pattern designer and painter who was well known in Meiji-era Kyoto during the late 19th century, Sekka left a profound mark on the Rinpa school of painting. His work combined the Rinpa style composition with modern techniques, and this book is considered one of his masterworks. The work shown above is entitled Kuji (puppy). It features a white dog staring at a snail, with a cuddly looking brown puppy beside them. The animals are drawn with soft, cursive brush strokes, which contrast nicely with solidly drawn bamboo stalks to form an impressive compositional arrangement.

(6) Kishi, Kazutoshi. Chuken hachiko monogatari (The Tale of a Faithful Dog Named Hachiko). Monasu, 1934, NDL Call No. 657-118.

Hachi is, of course, the name of one of the most beloved dogs in Japanese history, known for his daily habit of waiting outside Shibuya Station for his master, Ueno Eizaburo, to return home. Unable to understand Uneo's unexpected death meant that he would not be coming home ever again, Hachi continued to visit Shibuya Station daily in the hope that his master would return. This book, authored by a former pupil of Ueno's, was published in the same year that the first statue of Hachi was erected in Shibuya. It narrates Hachi’s story as well as describes its impact on Japanese society with an approachable narrative style. The final chapter includes letters that were addressed to Hachi. The author also participated in the making of an audio recording entitled Junjo bidan chuken hachiko (The Heartwarming Tale of Hachi, the Faithful Dog) (1934), which is famous for including Hachi's own voice.


<<Maruyama shijo gakan (Works of the Maruyama Shijo School). Edited by Murayama Jungo, 2nd ed., Kokkasha, 1915, NDL Call No. 410-11イ. * Available in the NDL Digital Collections>>

(Translated by Aiko Umeno and Shihoko Yokota)

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