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Dog Man: An Uncommon Life on a Faraway Mountain

Dog Man: An Uncommon Life on a Faraway Mountain Cover

ISBN13: 9781594201240
ISBN10: 1594201242
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

How one man's consuming passion for dogs saved a legendary breed from extinction and led him to a difficult, more soulful way of life in the wilds of Japan's remote snow country

As Dog Man opens, Martha Sherrill brings us to a world that Americans know very little about-the snow country of Japan during World War II. In a mountain village, we meet Morie Sawataishi, a fierce individualist who has chosen to break the law by keeping an Akita dog hidden in a shed on his property.

During the war, the magnificent and intensely loyal Japanese hunting dogs are donated to help the war effort, eaten, or used to make fur vests for the military. By the time of the Japanese surrender in 1945, there are only sixteen Akitas left in the country. The survival of the breed becomes Morie's passion and life, almost a spiritual calling.

Devoted to the dogs, Morie is forever changed. His life becomes radically unconventional-almost preposterous-in ultra-ambitious, conformist Japan. For the dogs, Morie passes up promotions, bigger houses, and prestigious engineering jobs in Tokyo. Instead, he raises a family with his young wife, Kitako-a sheltered urban sophisticate-in Japan's remote and forbidding snow country.

Their village is isolated, but interesting characters are always dropping by-dog buddies, in-laws from Tokyo, and a barefoot hunter who lives in the wild. Due in part to Morie's perseverance and passion, the Akita breed strengthens and becomes wildly popular, sometimes selling for millions of yen. Yet Morie won't sell his spectacular dogs. He only likes to give them away.

Morie and Kitako remain in the snow country today, living in the traditional Japanese cottage they designed together more than thirty years ago-with tatami mats, an overhanging roof, a deep bathtub, and no central heat. At ninety-four years old, Morie still raises and trains the Akita dogs that have come to symbolize his life.

In beautiful prose that is a joy to read, Martha Sherrill opens up the world of the Dog Man and his wife, providing a profound look at what it is to be an individualist in a culture that reveres conformity-and what it means to live life in one's own way, while expertly revealing Japan and Japanese culture as we've never seen it before.

Review:

"Morie Sawataishi had never owned a dog, but in 1944, when the Japanese man was 30 years old, the desire for one came over him like a 'sudden... craving.' During WWII, snow country dogs were being slaughtered for pelts to line officers' coats; working for Mitsubishi in the remote snow country, Morie decided to rescue Japan's noble, ancient Akita breed — whose numbers had already dwindled before the war — from certain extinction. Raised in an elegant Tokyo neighborhood, his long-suffering wife, Kitako, hated country life, and his children resented the affection he lavished on his dogs rather than on them. The book brims with colorful characters, both human and canine: sweet-tempered redhead Three Good Lucks, who may have been poisoned to death by a rival dog owner; high-spirited One Hundred Tigers, who lost his tail in an accident; and wild mountain man Uesugi. To Western readers Morie's single-mindedness may seem selfish and Kitako's passivity in the face of his stubbornness incomprehensible, but former Washington Post staffer Sherrill (The Buddha from Brooklyn) imbues their traditional Japanese lifestyle with dignity, and Morie's adventures (he is now 94) should be enjoyed by dog lovers, breeders and trainers. B&w photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Japan is so good at presenting itself in its official, public capacity that it is often seen as something of a faceless collective, more of a phenomenon or a curiosity than a country of 127 million often wildly idiosyncratic souls. Year after year foreigners alight on the island nation and, reading its formal (impassive) face, pronounce expertly on the conformity of public Japan, on the way it turns... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Synopsis:

"Dog Man" tells the story of how one man's consuming passion for dogs saved a legendary breed from extinction and, in the process, led him to a difficult, but more soulful way of life in the wilds of Japan's remote snow country.

Synopsis:

Dog Man: An Uncommon Life on a Faraway Mountain is a stunning portrait of the Japanese rebel who single-handedly rescued the 4,000-year-old Akita dog breed.

At the end of World War II, there were only 16 Akita dogs left in Japan. Morie Sawataishi became obsessed with preventing the extinction of the 4,000-year-old Japanese dog breed. He defied convention, broke the law, gave up a prestigious job, and chose instead to take his urbanite wife to Japan's forbidding snow country to start a family, and devote himself entirely to saving the Akita.

Martha Sherrill blends archival research, on-site reportage, and her talent for narrative to reveal Sawataishi's world, providing a profound look at what it takes to be an individual in a culture where rebels are rare, while expertly portraying a side of Japan that is rarely seen by outsiders.

 

About the Author

Martha Sherrill is a former Washington Post staff writer known for her penetrating profiles of people, both famous and obscure. Her award-winning writing has appeared in Esquire and Vanity Fair, among other publications. She is the author of The Buddha from Brooklyn, a work of nonfiction, and two novels, My Last Movie Star and The Ruins of California. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and son.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

petit ninjya, January 1, 2010 (view all comments by petit ninjya)
The whole atmosphere of the writing is true to the culture and the life of the northern Japan.

The author's keen observation, depiction, and message are well expressed in this book.

It is rare for a contemporary western writer to write about such an esoteric topic so well without taint.
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(2 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
fshono, May 29, 2008 (view all comments by fshono)
Started out a bit melodramatic but quickly showed her true understanding of the Japanese qualities that are not easily expressed in words. I liked the way she brought out the AIR (atmosphere) between the man and dogs; the man and other people; and the man and nature.

I was very much moved by this book thinking I could be one of the characters who were depicted in here.

I almost forgot breathing while I was in the last two chapters.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781594201240
Subtitle:
An Uncommon Life on a Faraway Mountain
Publisher:
Riverhead Trade
Author:
Sherrill, Martha
Subject:
Adventurers & Explorers
Subject:
Human-animal relationships
Subject:
Japan
Subject:
Ethnic Cultures - General
Subject:
Dogs - Breeds - Working & Herding Dogs
Subject:
Human-animal relationships - Japan
Subject:
Akita dog - Japan
Subject:
Asia - Japan
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
20090804
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
9.04x6.33x.87 in. 1.18 lbs.
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects


Biography » General
Pets » Dogs » General
Pets » Pet Tales

Dog Man: An Uncommon Life on a Faraway Mountain New Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$34.14 In Stock
Product details 256 pages Penguin Press - English 9781594201240 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Morie Sawataishi had never owned a dog, but in 1944, when the Japanese man was 30 years old, the desire for one came over him like a 'sudden... craving.' During WWII, snow country dogs were being slaughtered for pelts to line officers' coats; working for Mitsubishi in the remote snow country, Morie decided to rescue Japan's noble, ancient Akita breed — whose numbers had already dwindled before the war — from certain extinction. Raised in an elegant Tokyo neighborhood, his long-suffering wife, Kitako, hated country life, and his children resented the affection he lavished on his dogs rather than on them. The book brims with colorful characters, both human and canine: sweet-tempered redhead Three Good Lucks, who may have been poisoned to death by a rival dog owner; high-spirited One Hundred Tigers, who lost his tail in an accident; and wild mountain man Uesugi. To Western readers Morie's single-mindedness may seem selfish and Kitako's passivity in the face of his stubbornness incomprehensible, but former Washington Post staffer Sherrill (The Buddha from Brooklyn) imbues their traditional Japanese lifestyle with dignity, and Morie's adventures (he is now 94) should be enjoyed by dog lovers, breeders and trainers. B&w photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , "Dog Man" tells the story of how one man's consuming passion for dogs saved a legendary breed from extinction and, in the process, led him to a difficult, but more soulful way of life in the wilds of Japan's remote snow country.
"Synopsis" by ,
Dog Man: An Uncommon Life on a Faraway Mountain is a stunning portrait of the Japanese rebel who single-handedly rescued the 4,000-year-old Akita dog breed.

At the end of World War II, there were only 16 Akita dogs left in Japan. Morie Sawataishi became obsessed with preventing the extinction of the 4,000-year-old Japanese dog breed. He defied convention, broke the law, gave up a prestigious job, and chose instead to take his urbanite wife to Japan's forbidding snow country to start a family, and devote himself entirely to saving the Akita.

Martha Sherrill blends archival research, on-site reportage, and her talent for narrative to reveal Sawataishi's world, providing a profound look at what it takes to be an individual in a culture where rebels are rare, while expertly portraying a side of Japan that is rarely seen by outsiders.

 

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