Exploring Japan’s Dog Culture




Dogs have been an integral part of Japanese culture for centuries, playing various roles from hunting partners to beloved companions. This blog aims to delve deeper into the rich history and unique aspects of dog culture in Japan, shedding light on the enduring bond between humans and dogs in this fascinating country. Through centuries of tradition and modern influences, Japan’s relationship with dogs has evolved, leaving a profound impact on its cultural landscape.

A Historical Connection:

The history of dogs in Japan is intertwined with the country’s cultural fabric. Dogs were not merely animals but esteemed companions and helpers to the people. In ancient times, they played crucial roles in hunting, guarding, and even as symbols of loyalty and protection. From the earliest known periods, such as the Jōmon period, archaeological findings reveal the presence of dogs in burial sites, suggesting their significance in the afterlife.

Cultural Depictions:

The Heian period marked a significant era in Japanese literature, characterized by the emergence of masterpieces like The Pillow Book and The Tale of Genji. These literary works provided insights into the daily lives of aristocrats, where dogs were depicted as ubiquitous companions. Whether lounging in the courtyards of grand estates or accompanying their owners on leisurely strolls, dogs were integral to the aristocratic lifestyle portrayed in these texts.

Traditional Practices:

Until the late 1800s, dogs played a crucial role in the training of nobility warriors through inuoumono, or “dog hunting events.” These events not only served as training exercises but also highlighted the bond between humans and dogs in traditional Japanese society. The warriors’ proficiency in handling dogs reflected their skill and discipline, essential qualities for success in battle. Through inuoumono, both humans and dogs honed their abilities, fostering a symbiotic relationship that transcended mere utility.

Pet owners pray with their pet dogs as they arrive for a Shichi-Go-San blessing.

Modern-Day Adoration:

Today, the reverence for dogs in Japan continues, with advertisements and stories often portraying dogs with human-like qualities. From heartwarming commercials to captivating novels, dogs are depicted as intelligent, loyal, and emotionally expressive beings, resonating deeply with audiences. These portrayals not only reflect the enduring affection for dogs in Japanese society but also serve as a reminder of their unwavering companionship.

The Rise of Small-Sized Dogs:


The popularity of kawaii (cute) culture in Japan may influence people’s preferences for smaller, more adorable dogs. In a society where cuteness is highly valued and celebrated, it’s not uncommon for individuals to gravitate towards breeds that embody these qualities. Small-sized dogs with their charming features and endearing personalities often align perfectly with the aesthetics of kawaii culture, making them irresistible to many Japanese dog lovers. The convenience and ease of caring for small-sized dogs may appeal to busy city dwellers who seek companionship without the demands of larger breeds. In densely populated urban areas like Tokyo, where living spaces can be limited, smaller breeds are often more practical and manageable. They require less space, are easier to transport, and generally have lower maintenance needs compared to larger dogs



Additionally, smaller breeds are less likely to overwhelm small living spaces, making them ideal companions for apartment dwellers with limited square footage. Their compact size allows them to navigate tight quarters more easily, reducing the risk of accidental damage or disruption to the household. Furthermore, smaller dogs are often preferred by individuals with busy lifestyles, as they typically require less exercise and can adapt well to indoor environments. This makes them suitable companions for city dwellers who may have limited time for outdoor activities or extended walks. Overall, the practicality and manageability of small-sized dogs make them an attractive option for urban residents seeking the companionship of a canine companion.

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