This is going to be a long blog post only somewhat related to Kishu Ken - but with lots of pictures and new experiences for us!
I live near a Japanese grocery store called Uwajimaya. It's a fantastic place that always has some of the most delicious steamed yam buns I've ever tasted and enough Japanese cookbooks to break the bank with. On Saturday, the store hosted its first ever "anime convention" in their sizable parking lot. I love to take the Kishu ladies out to community events and show people the dogs - it's enriching for them and more often than not, people love seeing them.
I went with two classmates from my Japanese 101 - a course I am taking this semester to help improve my communication skills for the future.
I ended up taking just Nami - I thought she would enjoy a people-heavy venue the most and would be the most reliable. I also thought, of the two, she could probably handle being out with people for longer (potentially the whole day), and I don't think I was wrong.
She was, definitely, a little startled by all the people in costumes at first. If not by the costumes, then perhaps by the enthusiasm people had for greeting her. Nami is not a shy dog and she loves affection, but there are sometimes where she feels people are being "too familiar, too soon". She shook that off as soon as she realized people had pets for her. This group was the first group she really wanted to be with - they were awesome. They were also the first people I remembered to ask if I could photograph with her. I'm the kind of person that purchases a $800 dog-picture-machine, takes it with me everywhere, and forgets to use it on the regular. I like living in the moment with my dogs.
I'm also the type of person who likes to be alone in the wilderness with my dogs. I enjoy being social with people, but I'd only ever been to one other anime convention and I didn't know a whole lot else about what I was walking into. I didn't know what to expect, really, but I expected to be more overwhelmed than Nami was with the sights and the sounds.
What I found was an amazing meeting of people who were really enthusiastic and passionate about what they love. It helped to see characters I remember. I distinctly remember the first one being Snake (Metal Geat Solid) in his box and being absolutely enthralled. Nami, on the other hand, just thought it was a weird person in a box, but that was ok, because people did weird things all the time.
During my day, I saw many, many people-- but it was always fun to see someone bring a character I know to life. Deadpool, Godzilla, some Hetalia (a comic about anthropomorphic nations) characters, and some DeathNote characters (one of the anime I HAVE actually watched - because I got an awesome keychain from the series and wanted to know what it was about), There were a collection of characters from Final Fantasy - Cloud, Cid, and even a moogle!
The moogle was fun to watch - and watch Nami react to/interact with. She couldn't figure it out at first. She went through all of it. Was it a person? Was it an animal? Was she supposed to eat it? Was she supposed to bay it? What was going on here? What was this new and unusual thing? Finally, after much drama, she decided that I wasn't reacting to it, so maybe it wasn't a big deal. Later, I caught her sniff at the person's shoes and she ultimately must have decided it was just a strangely-shapen human. She went through this with every person in a full suit. I didn't get much in the way of pictures of these events because I was pretty busy making sure she didn't do anything inappropriate (and, naturally, she didn't).
I had many people ask about the breed, of course - and the collar, which I made the morning of the event. The stitching is sloppy, but no one noticed that, I guess.
My favorite part of the day was the traditional drumming, though! Takohachi (I bought their shirt. It was cute), a non-profit taiko drum group, took the stage and did an amazing couple of songs. I must have been grinning like an idiot the whole time, but it was so powerful and fun. Nami was a little startled at first, when she heard the loud noises, but she made a quick check to confirm that humans were making those noises and seemed to go "well, whatever, then."
The day went on, we answered some more Kishu questions, but mostly, Nami just enjoyed the love she got and I enjoyed watching everyone look like they were having so much fun.
I actually asked these guys who they were cosplaying. One of the other people taking photos had grabbed Nami's attention and I thought that this group looked really well-coordinated! Lauren Heerlein and Jamie Zclybek as #9 - Kageyama Tobio, Jakob Collins as #10 - Hinata Shoyo, & Kai Etherton as #2 - Sugawara ("Suga"). They are all characters from the anime "Haikyuu" (which I had never heard of, but promptly Googled when I got home, among other things) and have their own pages on FB. Kai Draws Shit and Seafood Gumbo Cosplay.
We also met a person with the same camera as me - which is always novel - he got a video of a little bit of Nami's reaction to the moogle, but mostly me being a socially awkward weirdo. He said he'd put it up on his youtube page, so I'll link that for you guys to watch. Looks like he plays games and puts them on there with commentary. I watched his play-through of The Witcher, which was the first time I'd watched a play-through for a game and the first time I got to see Witcher 3 (which I had wanted to play for some references I saw to the Wild Hunt in its marketing).
One of the moments I think I will remember most from this day was when we were approached by a couple with an elderly man in a wheelchair. They asked if he could pet Nami, to which I said "of course!" He took to Nami right away and she ever-so-gently put her paws on his lap and sat there to be pet and handled as much as he wanted. I'd been considering taking Nami for her CGC and TD certifications and have been doing some training on the side for it, but this - and the reaction out of the whole family - reminded me of why I loved volunteering with my Malamute, before her. Nami is a natural and a dog of many hats. She is exactly the personality I wanted when I knew I wanted a Kishu and she is the type of dog I hope I can help preserve... and I can't take any credit for that. She might not be the dog she is today without Gen Murofushi and his family there to do the awesome job they did in raising her.
Overall, this was an awesome community day and an enriching experience for both myself and Nami. It wasn't as physically demanding as many of our daily adventures, but it was certainly something she handled gracefully and one of the reasons I love her so much. This event served to remind me that I have so much to be thankful for and so much to learn from everyone I meet.
So, thank you, everyone who helped make this event possible, everyone who stopped to pet Nami, and everyone who showed up in general! Until next time!