Empire of Dogs

Empire of Dogs: Canines, Japan, and the Making of the Modern Imperial World

AARON HERALD SKABELUND
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 296
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7591/j.ctt7zfw0
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Empire of Dogs
    Book Description:

    In the groundbreaking Empire of Dogs, Aaron Herald Skabelund examines the history and cultural significance of dogs in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Japan, beginning with the arrival of Western dog breeds and new modes of dog keeping, which spread throughout the world with Western imperialism. He highlights how dogs joined with humans to create the modern imperial world and how, in turn, imperialism shaped dogs' bodies and their relationship with humans through its impact on dog-breeding and dog-keeping practices that pervade much of the world today.

    In a book that is both enlightening and entertaining, Skabelund focuses on actual and metaphorical dogs in a variety of contexts: the rhetorical pairing of the Western "colonial dog" with native canines; subsequent campaigns against indigenous canines in the imperial realm; the creation, maintenance, and in some cases restoration of Japanese dog breeds, including the Shiba Inu; the mobilization of military dogs, both real and fictional; and the emergence of Japan as a "pet superpower" in the second half of the twentieth century. Through this provocative account, Skabelund demonstrates how animals generally and canines specifically have contributed to the creation of our shared history, and how certain dogs have subtly influenced how that history is told. Generously illustrated with both color and black-and-white images, Empire of Dogs shows that human-canine relations often expose how people-especially those with power and wealth-use animals to define, regulate, and enforce political and social boundaries between themselves and other humans, especially in imperial contexts.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6323-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-v)
  2. [Map]
    (pp. vi-vi)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-xviii)
  6. INTRODUCTION: CANINE IMPERIALISM
    (pp. 1-17)

    On the morning of 21 May 1925, a dog known as Hachikō walked with his master to a Tokyo railway station just as they had done each weekday morning for over a year since he had been adopted as a two-month-old puppy. That day his master, felled by a lethal stroke while at work, did not return. For the next decade, Hachikō frequented the environs of the station. In 1932, thanks to the efforts of an enterprising promoter of indigenous Japanese dogs, a national daily newspaper prominently featured a story about Hachikō, claiming that his presence at the station represented...

  7. 1 THE NATIVE DOG AND THE COLONIAL DOG
    (pp. 18-52)

    Over two decades after an unnamed Harper’s writer asserted that, like American Indians, Asian canines were vicious, cutthroat, and decadent, the prolific British travel writer Isabella Bird (1831–1904) expressed a similar loathing for the dogs she encountered while journeying in northern Japan in 1878. The “primitive Japanese dog—a cream-coloured wolfish-looking animal, the size of a collie, very noisy and aggressive, but as cowardly as bullies are—,” she complained, “was in great force in Fujihara, and the barking, growling, and quarrelling of these useless curs continued at intervals until daylight; and when they were not quarrelling, they were...

  8. 2 CIVILIZING CANINES; OR, DOMESTICATING AND DESTROYING DOGS
    (pp. 53-86)

    In 1873 the artist Utagawa Yoshifuji (1828–87) created a print that invokes how the arrival of Western canine imperialism had radically reshaped human-canine relations in Japan in just over two decades. The print shows three dogs sitting down to a lunch of hikkoshi soba, a noodle dish eaten to celebrate the arrival of a new neighbor. Two of the dogs are native canines, as evidenced by their physical appearance and traditional Japanese clothing. The other dog is a Western canine wearing dark trousers and a navy-blue tunic. All three sport wooden tags hanging around their necks. In the accompanying...

  9. 3 FASCISM’S FURRY FRIENDS: THE “LOYAL DOG” HACHIKŌ AND THE CREATION OF THE “JAPANESE” DOG
    (pp. 87-129)

    Thanks to his glorification, while he was alive and since, many people have heard of the tale of Hachikō (1923–35). Numerous photographs exist of the dog, including one that likely dates from around 1933 showing an aging, large, double-coated, cream-colored canine, hunched back on his hind legs, his right ear erect and his left ear drooping to the side, facing and gazing directly at the camera. At the time, Hachikō, still strongly built, stood at slightly over twenty-five inches at his shoulders and weighed about ninety to ninety-five pounds, fairly typical for an adult male Akita of the day....

  10. 4 DOGS OF WAR: MOBILIZING ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL
    (pp. 130-170)

    While the “Loyal Dog” Hachikō and most other “Japanese” canines were militarized only in the realm of the imagination, many dogs actually went to war. During the First and Second World Wars, nearly every combatant nation employed dogs to perform military-related tasks. The widespread, systematic deployment of canines occurred even as the mechanization of warfare seemed to be rendering animals obsolete for military use. Scientific and technical advances in the ability to breed and train animals—on land and in the sea and air—and the practical value of beasts in battle, especially under certain conditions, such as in remote,...

  11. 5 A DOG’S WORLD: THE COMMODIFICATION OF CONTEMPORARY DOG KEEPING
    (pp. 171-198)

    In the spring of 1946, just over a half a year after the Japanese government’s surrender brought an end to the Second World War, the former army-dog specialist and owner of the Mikado Kennel, Sawabe Kenjirō?, reopened his shop across the street from the Takashimaya department store in the downtown Tokyo neighborhood of Nihonbashi. The U.S. firebombing of 9 March 1945, which claimed approximately 120,000 lives and 23,000 homes, destroyed Sawabe’s shop and two wings of the Takashimaya store. Six months later, when the American occupiers arrived, they requisitioned what remained of the main Takashimaya building for office space. On...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 199-232)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 233-252)
  14. Index
    (pp. 253-268)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 269-270)