フリガナつき和文は英文の下にございます。/ The Japanese translation is under the English post and has furigana for all Chinese characters.

The Kai-ken Dog and Yamanashi Prefecture

  1. Hishimaru, the mascot of Yamanashi Prefecture, is a Kai-ken dog
  2. What kind of dog is the Kai-ken?
  3. On Hishimaru’s name
  4. On his gunbai (fan)
  5. The Yamanashi Prefecture
  • ルビ付き和訳 Japanese translation with Ruby


1. Hishimaru, the mascot of Yamanashi Prefecture, is a Kai-ken dog 

An image of stuffed Hishimaru, the mascot of Yamanashi Prefecture
Hishimaru, the mascot of
Yamanashi Pref.

This week, Takeda Hishimaru, the cute boy in the photo, came to our town with the people of the Yamanashi Tourism Organization. He is a little ambassador of Yamanashi Prefecture.

Hishimaru is the character mascot of Yamanashi, but what kind of person is he?

He is a Japanese traditional hunting dog! The breed is called Kai-ken (meaning a dog of the province of Kai, the old word for the Yamanashi area) and is designated as a national treasure. 

Have you heard about the Kai-ken? What kind of a dog is it?

2. What kind of dog is the Kai-ken?

Image of Japan with Yamanashi prefecture marked in red
[Click to enlarge] The location of Yamanashi Prefecture https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4927572

The Kai-ken is known for its beautiful black to brown fur with tiger-like pattern. It is about 50 cm (20 inch) high and it weighs about 15 kg (about 30 lb). It is very nimble and has very strong legs.

The Kaiken has a fur like a tiger

While they don’t bark often, they are ferocious. In hunting, a Kai-ken can kill a deer single-handed.

They are also known for being very faithful and extremely affectionate to only one master (and maybe the master’s family). They live for about 15 years and during their life, they don’t trust other humans and they don’t open their hearts to a second master. People call it “ichi-dai isshu (一代一主, one master, one life) and liken them to some warriors in history who had only one master even in difficult times.

The Kai-ken don’t mingle with other dogs, either. Therefore, you have to be careful when, for example, you take a Kai-ken to a dog run for a play time.

It’s a proud dog and you have to train him/her and establish a relationship as the boss. If you are not firm, he/she will make light of you. On the other hand, once the relationship is established, he/she will be with you for the rest of their life.

3. On Hishimaru’s name

“Takeda-bishi” or the
family crest of the Takedas

What is the namesake of our mascot, Takeda Hishimaru?

He has the last name of the most famous and the brightest warlord from this province, Takeda Shingen (1521-1573). Hishimaru’s helmet has the family crest of the Takedas. (For more topics on Shingen and his province, click => Surnames With a Riddle

“Hishi” of Hishimaru means the diamond shape seen in the family crest of the Takedas. And  “maru” is a word often added to the name of a boy or something precious such as a sword, horse, dog, ship and so on. (We will discuss this “maru” at the end of a name in another post.)

An image of a gunbai
The typical shape of gunbai

4. On his gunbai (the fan)

Hishimaru also has a black gunbai or the military leader’s fan in his hand. On it is written:

“風林火山 (Huurin-kazan)” 

The four Chinese characters, 風, 林, 火, and 山, represent wind, woods, fire, and mountains respectively.

An image of Takeda Shingen, a warlord of Yamanashi
A statue of Shingen

“Huurin-kazan” is a kind of acronym. It refers to a phrase from Sun Tzu (or The Art of War), the famous military text from the 5th century B.C.

It is said that in his days, the warlord Takeda Shingen decided to use this phrase as the fighting motto for him and his army, and had it written on his colors as follows:

   疾如風 徐如林 侵掠如火 不動如山

In Japanese, it reads: 

Hayaki koto kaze no gotoku (Fast like the wind)
Shizuka naru koto hayashi no gotoku (Quiet like woods)
Okashi kasumeru koto hi no gotoku (Attack and seize like fire)
Ugokazaru koto yama no gotoshi (Unmoved like mountains)

Shingen was feared like a demon and his enemies would shudder at the sight of those banners.

Later, when people recounted the stories of this era, anyone would know it was about Shingen’s army when they mention the colors with the characters “風林火山 wind, woods, fire, and mountains”. It is said that this was the beginning of this abbreviation.

5. Yamanashi Prefecture

In Yamanashi, there are various nice places to visit besides historic points of interest. 

An image of Mt. Fuji
A beautiful view of Mt. Fuji (Photo by Hujun)

Having half of Mt. Fuji in the prefecture, Yamanashi is a very mountainous place. (For more topics on the mountainous Yamanashi Prefecture, click => Surnames With a Riddle

Most of the mountains are volcanic, so they have a lot of famous natural hot springs. 

During the summer, the wonderful cool weather of the highlands attracts people from other areas.  

The Yatsugatake Mountains.
Of course we were too young
to go all the way to the top!

My elementary school in Tokyo had a lodging facility in the Yatsugatake (meaning “Eight Peaks”) mountains of Yamanashi. During the summer vacation, we would go there on the summer school program and hiked a lot. At the lodge, I loved their huge jar in the lobby from which we could drink as much fragrant, chilled barley tea as I wanted.

Yamanashi is also famous for fruits such as peaches and grapes, and for beautiful natural scenes of flowers in spring and summer, and of foliage in fall.

For details on the tourism of Yamanashi, please refer to the link below.

[End of the English post]

Related Post

External Links


  1. 山梨県やまなしけんのマスコット、けん菱丸ひしまるくん
  2. けんとは
  3. 菱丸ひしまるくんのまえ
  4. 菱丸ひしまるくんの軍配ぐんばい(うちわ)
  5. 山梨県やまなしけん





ほん伝統的でんとうてきりょうけんなんです! けん山梨やまなしいきめいのくにのいぬという)といい、くに天然てんねん念物ねんぶつでもあります。

けんって、いたことがありますか? どんないぬなのでしょうか?









菱丸ひしまるくんは、このほうもっと有名ゆうめいかつ聡明そうめい戦国せんごくしょうたけ信玄しんげんみょうです。かぶとには、たけもんがついています。(信玄とその領国については、こちらもご覧ください => なぞなぞのある名前)







   疾如風 徐如林 侵掠如火 不動如山





5.   山梨県やまなしけん


さん半分入はんぶんはいっている山梨やまなしは、とてもやまおおしょです。(山の多い山梨県については、こちらもご覧ください => なぞなぞのある名前)









Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

10 − 1 =