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My sister recently went to Japan and came back to this side of the Pacific bearing Shiba gifts.

Shiba seals/stickers

First, there was a whole sheet of bobble-headed puppies from the Mind Wave stationary company. And in the twisted Japanese convention of foodifying cute creatures, there was a sheet of Shibas as cheeseburgers, hot cakes, apple pie, berry shakes, etc. branded as “McDogs Burger” from the folks at Beverly.

Shiba key cover and fob

More three-dimensional trinkets included a Shiba key cover from Leaps and a little metal charm from Nayutty.

The most interesting surprise was this January 2013 (vol. 68) issue of Shi-Ba magazine. The title has come to my attention before, but I’ve never actually looked through an issue. This appeals to me as a window into how Japanese Shibas are kept, discussed, and displayed for public consumption. It’s evident from the gorgeous photos that they are very much treasured as household pets, but apparently even the Japanese need feature-length reminders of breed history, what constitutes the true Shiba spirit, how “ancient” and “natural” and “wolf-life” this native breed is, and how the Shiba adapts to modern domestic paradigms.

Shi-Ba magazine January 2013

… at least, this is some of what I gleaned from skimming with my limited Japanese literacy. There’s plenty of gratuitous fluff, but even cute stories which seem deceptively simple can be taken seriously. Maybe someday, when I have, uh, days to work on this, I’ll go through and take a closer look. Articles of interest include four pages on the Kai ken, another six pages on Jomon Shibas and the veteran hunter-breeders who keep them, more whimsical features like six pages on Shiba scratching (how and why they scratch themselves, and what owners can do to alleviate itchiness), how to prepare your Shiba to stay overnight at a friend’s house if they also have a dog (particularly adorable because the other party in this instructional article has a Kai), to more personalized narratives about a bear hunting episode with the now-gone Kouyasu-ken, and a triumphant story of a three-legged Shiba mix.

Jomon breeder, Shi-Ba magazine 01/2013
Kai ken and Shiba friends, Shi-Ba magazine 01/2013

From the standpoint of someone who is interested in these kinds of visual and textual archives about human and companion animal relationships, this magazine is a goldmine. And I’m totally jealous of all the material this makes available to future canine historians, at least those who work in this particular niche.

Yup, sis had a pretty good idea of what I’d like!

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