Japan’s oldest celebrities
The relationship between dogs and people in Japan has a long history. From ancient funerary rituals to literature and art, evidence shows that in Japan dogs have been hunting partners, subjects of interest and companions - in both life and death - for thousands of years.
Dog bones dating back to the Jōmon period (c. 14,500 – c. 500 BCE) have been found buried with as much care as human remains, while a haniwa figurine (ritualistic terracotta clay figures) of a dog wearing a collar was unearthed from a Kofun period site (300–538 CE). Later on in Japan's history, literary works from the Heian period (794–1185 CE) such as The Pillow Book and The Tale of Genji depict dogs roaming freely among courtiers in the early capital of Heian-kyō, and foreign breeds were valued as hunting dogs for falconry in the Kamakura period (1185–1333 CE).
Up until the late 1800s, dogs have helped warriors of nobility in their training through the sport of inuoumono (犬追物 - 'dog hunting events'), while leading artists in the Edo period (1603–1868 CE) painted puppies, and stories featuring anthropomorphized dogs grew in popularity.
Today, adverts and stories that give human characteristics to dogs are still produced in abundance. The relationship between dogs and people in Japan may have changed over time, but, just as they did in the past, people in Japan today cherish their canine companions.