Saturday, April 25, 2009
In Japanese, a matagi (又鬼・マタギ) is a group hunter using an old method in the Tōhoku Region and Hokkaidō. The matagi of Aomori Prefecture and Akita Prefecture are famous. Matagi are different from hunters with modern equipment. Forests have diminished, and hunting Japanese serow (氈鹿、羚羊・カモシカ) is now forbidden in Japan. There are various opinions on the origin of the word matagi. The leading opinion is that the word developed from matangi matangitono (マタンギ・マタンギトノ), which means "the man of winter" or hunter in the Ainu language.
There is also an opinion that a word matagi previously existed in the Japanese language, and that the Ainu language borrowed it.
>>From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The matagi would grow crops and build small cabins in the mountains during the summer to prepare for the winter hunt. Every year they would make small hunting parties and head into the mountains to hunt big game, mostly bear and kamoshika (a type of mountain antelope). The matagi's weapons were long spears and poison darts, though later they began to use firearms.
The matagi had their own language they would speak while hunting, as speaking everyday Japanese in the mountains was forbidden, and the entire hunt itself was steeped in tradition and religious rites. Alcohol, singing, whistling, yawning, spitting and all unnecessary noise were forbidden. The matagi had a strong belief in the gods of the mountain. They believed the mountains belonged to the gods, and the bear was a gift to them. They conducted purification rituals before the hunt, and had prayers they would recite after a successful hunt.
The spread of modern civilization and the use of firearms forever changed the lifestyle of the mountain villagers. The matagi died out and faded into legend.
The story of the matagi is one of man living in harmony with the mountains, taking only what he needed, surviving in the face of danger and hardship off of the gifts he received from the mountain gods.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
I visited a friend's family kennel last week. I didn't take that many pictures of the Kai as I was talking most of the time, but here's a few pictures.
Inoue-san actually bred Tone-no-isshin, the male that took overall champion at the Kai-ken Aigokai Exhibition a few years back. He's still breeding the same lines, and had quite a few stunning dogs.
What surprised me most was his Kai's temperament. No shy animals at all, and once Inoue-san walked past all the kennels with me and introduced me, they were all tails and tongues.
My thoughts on the subject...
I've seen a lot of Kai over the past few years, and temperament has always been a sticky issue for myself, and the breeders I've discussed it with. Preserving the Kai in its original form should include not just the aesthetics, but the temperament and workability of the breed as well. The Kai should not be aggressive toward strangers or other dogs, but it should be slightly wary of them, all the while staying alert and inquisitive. Once the dog is shown (or perceives) that there is no immediate danger or threat, they should be at worst indifferent, and depending on the individual dog, perhaps even friendly.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
I love spring in Japan, the cherry blossoms, those first warm breezy days.
It's all part of a plan to lull you into a stupor before the rainy season arrives to wash every last thought of blue skies away.
But hey, I enjoy every last minute of spring, and from the looks of it, the bass in my local river do too. I just thought I'd spend a few minutes fishing on my way home from the hardware store. I got to my favorite bridge, set up the rod, picked out my lucky black minnow lure and... nothing.
After a few minutes I noticed all the bass frolicking around in the shallows upstream, with no interest whatsoever in getting caught by some fisherman and hauled out of the river. Guess it's that wonderful time of the year for them.
I sat down for a few minutes watching a king fisher on the other side of the river (contemplating my luck at being born a human --imagine having sex only once a year) before heading back to my jeep and home. I could have had a field day with a spear, or I guess, if I were a bear...
It's not just the bass. Every week I hear about new Kai pup litters from breeder friends, and on the other side of the coin, about the unwanted pups picked up off the street by rescues. Today's picture is of a beautiful pup I just heard about today that is up for adoption.
He looks like a husky mix, and will probably grow to be a medium sized dog. His name's Mac, and here's his blog for anyone interested.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
The Kai Ken is considered by some to be the most ancient, and purest dog breed in Japan. It was developed in the isolated district of Kai (Yamanashi Prefecture) as a hunting dog. Kai's were used to hunt everything from boar, deer, bear, to pheasants. This breed was designated a natural monument in Japan in 1934.
Kai are also known as the Tora-inu or Tiger dog because of their brindle coloration. They come in three shades of brindle, Aka-tora (red), Chu-tora (medium), and Kuro-tora (black). The majority of Kai seen today are Kuro-tora primarily due to their popularity in the show ring. The resulting decrease in Aka-tora bloodlines has been noticed, and efforts are under way to preserve them.
The Kai is a medium sized dog with a wedge shaped head and prick ears. The tail may be curled over the back, or carried in a sickle position.