Tuesday, February 13, 2018


Hey everyone, it's that time of year. Time to pay your NIPPO/KKA/AKIHO membership fees. Since so many people ask me to pay for them, I've decided this year I'm going to do it in one shot in order to save me time.

Just send you renewal fee to my PayPal at kato.the.walrus@gmail.com and include your name and membership number (if you know it), and which club the fees are for, and I will pay in bulk around March 1st. So please, send the fees before the end of February. If you're unsure what the membership fee is, just drop me an email and ask.

Cheers everyone, and Happy New Year!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Kai Puppies

EDIT: 2018/02/22 All three Kai females have been homed. Thanks for all the mails.

There are 3 female Kai pups available at the moment. Contact me for details at kato.the.walrus@gmail.com They were born over at a friend's kennel, and were sired by a male I like, Asahi. He's got a great temperament which seems to carry through to his pups. The pups are around 50 days old at the moment.
Unfortunately there were some last minute reservation cancellations which made these pups available.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Houston, We Have a Problem

As much as my blogging of late has been pretty sporadic (for a while now to be honest) ,and it's always been erratic, I was reminded today of why I need to keep blogging about the Nihon Ken. I started my first English blog back in 2009 Kai Ken: The Tora Inu to blog about my experiences with my dogs, and to put to rest a lot of the misinformation about the Japanese breeds that was out there on the internet at the time. False information about their history, poorly translated information on the breeds and their standards, and outright incorrect statements like my personal favorite 'the Japanese breeds are not allowed to be exported because they are national treasures'.

Almost immediately I realized that the Japanese breeds were not doing well in Japan. Numbers of breeders and dogs had been steadily dropping for years, and especially with the medium size breeds, we were reaching critically low levels of breeding animals. This can be attributed to the aging population in Japan, young people moving to urban areas, and their lack of interest the Japanese breeds, and the housing situation in urban areas being extremely unfriendly toward dog ownership (other than for small breeds). The medium and large size Japanese breeds were just not appealing to the general population here, and they are not being promoted properly.

Bucking this trend in Japan, or basically creating a new trend, is a difficult thing. In comparison, the popularity and awareness of the Japanese breeds overseas has been steadily growing. I felt that one of the ways to have a 'plan b' for the breeds was to help breeders overseas set up breeding programs that included as much stock from as many different lines as possible. I moved on in blogging, and since it wasn't just about the Kai anymore, I started this blog The Nihon Ken. As the movement to preserve the Japanese breeds really started to gain momentum due to groups of Nihon Ken fanciers like The Nihon Ken Forum , I set up a website dedicated to handling export requests www.japandogexport.com 

Now here we are in 2018. I've moved several times over the years, with the last one 5 years ago dropping me in the mountains of Chiba prefecture, rebuilding a cabin, hunting, and getting in some surf when possible. Last summer my youngest brother moved out here with me which really consolidated this lifestyle of building, hunting, breeding, and surfing. There's a lot of things we do know that don't really have to do with Nihon Ken (like hunting with Pointers and surfing) so I'm setting up another site for all that other stuff Awa Mountain Dog which is a take off of my kennel name Awa Yamainu Sou.

I think we've come a long way in the almost 10 years I've been involved with the Japanese breeds. I've become a part of amazing friendships that span the globe, been a part of helping a lot of people get their foot in the door with the Japanese breeds. There's a lot of good information out there now thanks to so many people setting up personal and club sites with correct information about the breeds' temperaments, standards, and history. I feel we're heading in a good direction.

And then yesterday I received a call from a board member of the Hokkaido Ken Hozonkai. He casually dropped a comment that perhaps I should try to come to the national show in March as who knows how much longer they'll be around. Apparently there were only 201 Hokkaido puppies registered with the HKH last year. 

Back in January of 2011 I posted this comment to a thread about why Nihon Ken pups were so hard to find.

Why are they difficult to find? Because they are rare breeds even in their native country, and the number of people that actually know about these breeds worldwide is very small. 

Here are the yearly registration numbers for NK in Japan at present.

Shiba 50,000-60,000
Akita (Japanese) 2000-2500 
Kai 900-1100
Hokkaido 900-1000
Kishu 700-900
Shikoku 300-400

The only NK you will find with regularity in pet shops is the Shiba. Recently Hokkaido have gained popularity due to a series of commercials featuring a white Hokkaido named Otousan, and I have seen several in pet shops.

1971 was the peak of HKH registration. That year there were 7061 pups registered. By 1981 that number had dropped to 2217. 10 years later in 1991 we were down to 1432. In 2001 there were 829 registrations, and for several years after that there were around 700 yearly, but from 2013 registration had dropped to around 300.

The Hokkaido Ken has two competing registries, the Hokkaido Ken Hozonkai, and the smaller Hokkaido Ken Kyokai. HKK registrations are around half of HKH numbers I hear, so we are now at around 300 Hokkaido registrations in Japan. That's a huge decline in the past decade from my initial estimate of 900-1000 total. The Hokkaido Ken is hitting a cliff. With so few registrations, the club is going to have a hard time functioning, and an even harder time getting enough dogs together for shows.

I checked in to see how the other breeds are doing.
Shiba registrations with NIPPO last year: 30,100 (plus JKC 11,829)
Kishu: 372 (JKC 2 probably exports, not pups)
Shikoku: 288 (JKC  23 probably exports, not pups)
HKH: 201 (JKC 33)
HKK: 107

KKA registrations for 2016: 840 (holding steady) JKC 178 (holding steady)
I didn't get around to calling AKIHO today.

Basically today I made time to blog to sound the alarm. The Hokkaido is in trouble. For all of you that have continually been bugging me for Hokkaido males to import, I'm not hiding them, there just aren't any! 

I got involve with the Shikoku mostly because they were the breed at the time that needed the most help. Here are the numbers:
2009: 357
2010: 370
2011: 233
2012: 297
2017: 288 so at least we're holding pretty steady.

The key to this is letting the breeders now that if they breed, I'll help them find pups. More pups out there finding homes is good for the breed.
Lord help me I don't want to have to get involved with the Hokkaido, I don't have the space for another breed, but maybe some of you have the resources?

This year I'm going to work on promoting the Japanese breeds within Japan. That's my resolution for 2018. Y'all are doing great overseas with clubs like the Hokkaido Association of North America HANA promoting the breeding in North America. It's time to figure out how to get Japan back on track, getting new, young, members into these preservation societies and push back us back from the cliff of genetic extinction.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Available Puppies

The 2 Shiba males have both been homed 2018/02/11

I'm late to posting about everything.
We've been hunting, Baron got severely injured, I had to euthanize a pup, I've got English Pointers here at the house now, I was audited, and those are just the things off the top of my head. Oh, and I'm in the middle of buying some property now.

So, I will definitely be posting about all the above things (here and on a new blog I'm starting up), but to start off with I'm looking for homes for 1 Shikoku male, and 2 Shiba males. If anyone's interested, drop me a line at kato.the.walrus@gmail.com

This is Ken, pictures of all these dogs were taken within the last week.

Next is Kuma. He's like an Ewok or something.

I'm looking for a retirement home for Mumu too.

And the red sesame male on the far right is available. He's out of Bunta x Kaori.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

If You Translate the Names of All the Prefectures in Japan...

Someone had some fun and translated all the names of the prefectures in Japan.
Absolutely brilliant!
I haven't checked every name to make sure it's translated properly...

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Hunting Season 2017: Day 1 and 2

I been busy. Hunting season opened on November 15th, but all I had managed till yesterday was a 2.5 hours of hunting with Baron (Kishu) and Rin (Shikoku) on the afternoon of the 16th. It was nice weather, warm, but not sweat inducing. We drove 5 minutes down the road, the boar are everywhere now, and got into the mountains. First little hill was empty, so we started into the 'back country', which means we walked for a few more minutes.

About 30 minutes in, I heard some squealing and a ruckus in the gully to the left and below us. I knew the dogs were on the opposite side of the ridge, so my brother and I were scratching our heads for a few minutes. The dogs came back, and as they did the noises started up again. Monkeys, fighting in the ridge opposite. They were really going at it, and the dogs took off toward it. We waited a bit, then headed over to see what was going on. The monkeys were still around, but Baron was done with them. I knew there was a boar nest nearby, so we walked toward it.

I was hoping to hit it from above (always easier that way), but in the finger ridge before the one with the nest, Baron went straight downhill, and then up to the boar from below. And started his low bark. Rin was still with us, but ran down to see what was up. I was out of position, but started moving closer. The vegetation was not so thick, and there were clear spots from about halfway up the ridge. After around a minute, the boar broke out, and wonder of wonders starting crashing through the underbrush in our direction, but below us in the gully. I got one second where it stopped to wheel and look in the direction of the dogs, and the boar was around 30 meters out. Lined up a quick shot, but it missed, and the boars and dogs were off for a while. That was pretty much the end of the day. We walked out and headed home.

Fast forward to December 12th. We're still busy, but it's time to put a boar in the freezer since we're almost out of meat. My brother and I take care of walking/feeding/playtime of the 13 dogs at the house, and after getting a bit of work in, we prep for the hunt and head out after lunch. Again, 5 minutes down the road, same area as last time, starting with the same little hill. It's got fields on three sides, and there's a lot of crop damage so the farmers are always asking me to come down and clear it out. More often than not there are boar sleeping in this tiny round nob of a hill.

Sure enough, a two minute walk to the top, the overly enthusiastic dogs are gone, and before there's a chance for anything to really happen I hear Baron's low first bark. It's on. From there the video starts. Get ready for 4 minutes of bamboo and motion sickness courtesy of my GoPro.

Karen really went for it for the first time, she was baying like crazy, and the two dogs worked really well together. The boar didn't get a chance to go anywhere, and didn't even notice me and my brother thrashing through the bamboo on top of him. I got to within 5 meters or so of the dogs (white dogs are great, high visibility), and followed their line of sight to me left where a huge black furry wall was standing and chuffing. I lined up the shot, lined it up again, squeezed, and the boar dropped cold. The odds of a single shot taking down a huge boar (I could see he was massive) like this are pretty low, so I was trying to rush to get into position for another shot if necessary. He was still for a few seconds, and then kind of half rolled a few meters down hill, but the dogs were on him grabbing ears and legs slowing his descent. He only got a bit further downhill and gave up the ghost. The slug had come through behind his head, through the upper right shoulder and vitals and lodged in the rib cage on the other side.

The dogs were pretty amped up, as were we at getting a huge boar so quickly. Fastest, cleanest boar hunt ever, with the dogs pulling off a perfect job. We cleared a path through the bamboo and hauled the boar out to the road which was 100 meters away. Getting the boar into the car was a bit of a feat, as was hanging it to weigh it. 125kg strung up, a record for me solo hunting with my dogs. I was on a hunt once where we got a 147kg boar with 2 other hunters and their dogs, but it's definitely a different experience to take one with just one gun and your own dogs. All the neighbors have been coming around to see the monster hanging up. I'll be butchering him tomorrow, probably mostly hamburger and sausage meat due to the boar's size, but he doesn't stink that much, and he's super fat so fingers crossed.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Little Kaze and Yama at 2.5 Months

I just got back from a trip to the States last night, so took the time to get out a bit with the pups this afternoon at sunset. Shot a few pictures, took some video. This is Kaze, one of the females from the Bunta x Chacha litter.

Below is her brother, Yama. I'm still looking for a home for this guy. He's got the best eyes in the litter.