Recent events presented me with an opportunity to contemplate why I am involved with the Nihon Ken.

There are many things that brought me here, my love of dogs, hunting etc, but what has kept me here is a different reason altogether. When I first became involved with the Nihon Ken, a gentleman who has been breeding NK for over 40 years said to me that owning, breeding, and showing the NK is not about competing against other kennels or their dogs. It is a competition with one's self.

This is a part of Japanese culture that I find intriguing and amazing. We are all unique, running our own unique races. Life is about accepting our uniqueness and striving not in competition with another, but in competition with one's self. It is an eternal journey of introspection, contemplation, and bettering one's self.

This is what I have found in the Nihon Ken, a place to learn, to learn about myself and my dogs, to strive to improve myself, and also to preserve and hopefully improve these amazing animals that have been passed on to us from previous generations. Through raising, breeding, interacting with, working, and showing Nihon Ken, I learn about them, and about myself. And the more I learn, the more I learn that there is still so much more to learn.

I have had visitors from overseas remark on how wonderful it is to see the kennels here working together to preserve these breeds. Of course no one is perfect, and so there will always be some amount of friction, but overall there is definitely an atmosphere of unity as opposed to competition.  Kennels will send quality pups to other kennels as gifts, to help fix some flaw in certain lines etc. No matter what their differences and shortcomings, the overall goal is the preservation of the breeds. Everyone agrees on this.

I agree on this. I own Nihon Ken not to win titles in the ring, to have the best hunting dog, to have the best trained dog, own the rarest breed, for bragging rights, or any other myriad of egotistical reasons. I'm in this for the journey, to see how far, or just where I can go with my dogs, to enjoy it, learn from it, and try to help others do the same. I try to help connect kennels with prospective owners so that kennels can continue to breed, and others can have the chance to own these amazing dogs. I'm trying to find ways to keep the breeds healthy, here and overseas, by at least increasing the gene pool. Preservation, betterment, learning, I find it all enjoyable and healthy.

I think this sort of contemplation is important, to sit down every once in a while and ask yourself the simple questions, and give yourself honest answers. Once you find those answers, you can see the big picture, allowing yourself to see past all the nonsense in yourself and others that seems so important at times. 


  1. Great post Shigeru. As I've told you in the past, I'm very envious of the dog culture you guys have over there.

    Jen and I have always been in it for intellectual reasons. I love learning from others who love the breeds we love. And we love learning from our own experience with the dogs.

    I really wish the western dog culture was more like the Japanese dog culture. I wish kennels would work to produce the best dogs they can produce and not focus so much on beating everyone else.

    The culture over here, the politics, petty nonsense, and competition, hurts the breeds.

    Anyway, I'm sorry you have to deal with the noise. But I think you know we all support you. And, we don't say it enough: THANK YOU!

  2. Thank you, Brad! I hope we all can continue to simply enjoy life with our dogs.


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