Of the many great essays in Reimagining Japan: The Quest for Future that Works, edited by McKinsey and Co., one of my favorite is “Reviving a Noble Breed” (page 393) by Martha Sherrill (author of Dog Man: An Uncommon Life on a Faraway Mountain). The captivating essay is based on this very readable book.
Saving a dog breed from extinction would in itself be an amazing story. Sherrill’s essay gives a glimpse of Sawataishi Morie’s life in post-war in Hokkaido, Japan’s northern snow country island and how he and his wife chose an uncommon path which led to him saving the Akita breed of dogs. I am struck by Sawataishi’s admirable dispostion and temperment and the qualities Japanese society, and many of us for that matter, seek most to find meaning and mission in our lives: “boldness, resourcefullness, vitality and drive”.
I am also left with the thought that without more people like Sawataishi, Japan risks being on the brink of irrelevance.