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Japan

The Japanese are crackers about agility

In 1994, Mr. Nielsen was invited from Denmark to conduct the very first agility seminar and competition. The history of agility in Japan started from there. Ah so good...until now. Masao (Ujin) Yagyu reports on Japanese agility at the crossroads.

In 1997, the first judge test was held with Mr. Nielsen's attendance, and the first Japanese official judges were selected. Currently, agility competitions are held every weekend during the season in Japan.

Today approximately 300 people are actively involved in competition, while probably another 1,000 people are enjoying the sport in one way or another. The current generation of the competitors is changing from a group of people who enjoy the sport with their dogs to one where they get dogs just for the purpose of competing in the sport.

Breeding for better agility dogs
The number of Border Collies is increasing rapidly. We have many Labrador Retrievers, mostly English field type, which is a distinct feature of Japanese agility. Another popular breed which you find in Mini classes is the Welsh Corgi

You also see quite a few Golden Retrievers, German Shepherd Dogs and Shelties. We have far fewer Belgians competing compared to Europe. It is too bad that we do not have many people enjoying the sport with Japanese Dogs. I have not seen an Akita.

World Championships 2000
This year the Japanese team took part in the World Championship in Helsinki, Finland. We stayed in the Euro-hostel with the Croatian, French and Portuguese national teams.Isabelle

When the Croatian team arrived in Finland on Thursday, their dogs were not there! There had been a mix up  at Zurich airport and the dogs had been put on a flight back to Croatia. The dogs were looked after by the handlersí families and on Friday they were taken back to the airport in Croatia and sent on the same journey again. They arrived on Friday, having missed the practice day to collect their dogs. Here they are leaving the hotel at the end of the competition (see left).Christine

We particularly enjoyed watching the handling of the French team including Isabelle Deconinck (top right) and Christine Charpantier (bottom right), the 2000 Champion which was wonderful.

Disappointment
I believe that Japanese agility is at a very big turning point. The reason is that Japanese Kennel Club (JKC)  that has been promoting the sport of agility has announced that they will no longer participate in the FCI's World Championship.

The agility in Japan has improved dramatically, partially as a result of the JKC policy to promote the sport by dispatching handlers and dogs to the World Championships. It is not surprising, therefore, that people are predicting it will affect negatively on the development of Japanese agility.

To participate in the World Championships has been a great goal and the dream for many of Japanese agility handlers. Everyone in agility is disturbed by this decision. Furthermore, many of dog trainers, including myself, are really disappointed.Ujin & Eva We have purchased the whole set of agility equipment, or even suggested that dog owners purchase the equipment for their own use.

The future
Even after JKC stops its support of the World Championship, we intend to keep contact with the rest of  the world and hope to participate in agility competitions all over the world. We also hope to invite agility people as judges such as Ritva Herrala, one of the two judges of this year's World Championship or instructors from the UK, the birthplace of agility as well as other various countries. I hope to see you agility lovers then.


About the author...
Masao (Ujin) Yagyu
is one of the agility players in Japan. He is a professional dog trainer, and he owns a dog club and a school. He is also an official JKC agility judge. His experience of agility started in 1994 when the sport was first introduced in Japan.

In 1996, his assistant represented Japan in the European Championship held in Switzerland , running Ujin's own dog. Then in 1997, he went to the World Championship in Denmark with two dogs. He won the Japanese Championship in 1998, and participated in the World Championship in Slovenia as a Japanese representative.

Last year, Ujin won the Japanese Championship. Unfortunately, he was not able to take part in the World Championship in Helsinki this year so once again, his assistant participated with one of his dogs. Some day he hopes to participate in a competition in UK with his dog.

You can contact Ujin on http://www02.so-net.ne.jp/~ujin

Cartoon dog from Naoko Yoshikawa's web site http://www.dml.com/colon/