In 1958 Japanese research expedition to Antarctica, which made an emergency evacuation, left behind 15 Karafuto-Ken (樺太犬) dogs (also know as Sakhalin Huskies). The researchers believed that a relief team would arrive within a few days, so they left the dogs chained up outside with a small supply of food; however, the weather turned bad and the team never made it to the outpost.
Incredibly, nearly one year later, a new expedition arrived and discovered that two of the dogs, Taro and Jiro, had survived (among the 15 dogs, seven found dead and six were never found). Taro and Jiro became heroes and famous for their will to live having survived alone for 11 months in extremely harsh conditions.
Taro returned to Sapporo, Japan and lived at Hokkaido University until his death in 1970, after which he was stuffed and put on display at the university’s museum. Jiro died in Antarctica in 1960 of natural causes and the remains are located at the National Science Museum of Japan in Ueno Park.
Today Taro and Jiro are together in a small park at the port of Nagoya, in front of Fuji, a retired icebreaker ship with many research expeditions at the South Pole between 1965 and 1985.
TARO AND JIRO
The success of the first Japanese Antarctic Expedition in 1956 was due in no small measure to the two sledge dogs known as Taro and Jiro. Unfortunately, adverse weather conditions and the shifting of the pack ice cut the members of the second expedition off from their “Syowa Station” and forced them to abandon all their sledge dogs there.
However, Taro and Jiro survived the cruel winter of the Antarctic and when contact was renewed with the station they were both found safe and sound. Such a miraculous survival provides us with an inspiring example of courage and steadfastness.
Taking the opportunity afforded by the permanent mooring in the port of Nagoya of the Antarctic Observation Ship “Fuji”, this statue has been erected to commemorate forever the great services of Taro and Jiro.
Author – photographer. Co-founder of Japanbyweb.com.