Kanji of the Day: 犬 (けん/いぬ) ken/inu (dog)

Since the Doge meme took over the internet, I feel like 柴犬 (shiba inu) have gained a tremendous popularity in the US. I just saw a super adorable 柴犬 couple walking down the street when I was having brunch with friends at a local cafe today! I just can’t get enough of their little fox/coyote like face and the cute curly tale.

Since today’s Kanji of the Day is 犬, let me show you the 6 breeds of dogs from Japan, including 柴犬.


Shiba inu (柴犬)is definitely the most popular Japanese dog. Despite their adorable look, they are quite independent and can be challenging to train if you are not an experienced owner. They are about the size of beagles, and make good companion for a family if trained properly 🙂


Akita-inu (秋田犬)is the only large breed of Japanese dog. This robust breed has thick double coat that keeps them warm during the severe winter in Akita, where the breed was originated. You may know this dog from the famous story of Hachi, an Akita-inu who kept waiting  for his deceased owner to return at Ueno station for 9 years! There is also a breed called American Akita, which is a cross-breed of Akita and mastiff/German shepherd.


Kai ken(甲斐犬)is known for their high level of intelligence and was used as a hunting dog. They are a size of Shiba-inu, however, have lots of stamina, and can chase after rabbits, boar, and even deer in the deep mountains. This extremely rare greed is known for its black coat with reddish brown spots.


Kishu- inu (紀州犬) is probably the second popular Japanese dog. They are known to be very loyal to their owners, and thus make a great companion. However, they can be a bit stubborn so training is a must. They come in several colors including white, which is the most common, black, and brown.


This wolf-like breed is called Sikoku ken (四国犬). They are a very primitive breed, and are usually not suitable for family with small kids due to their cautious and agile temperament. Similar to Kai ken, they were once used as hunting dog, and thus have very muscular structure and high intelligence.


Finally, this white, fluffy, and friendly looking breed is called Hokkaido inu (北海道犬). This breed was bred by the indigenous Ainu people of Hokkaido, and has been used as hunting dog. So don’t be fooled by their adorable look, because they are not hesitant to fight again wild bears if they need to!

Were you able to find your favorite breed? Please let us know! 🙂

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