It’s a neighborhood watch with a difference. A clean-nosed crew, sniffing out trouble and keeping the streets safe for school kids: meet the pups of Tokyo’s real-life Paw Patrol.
They might not have the gadgets and gear of their beloved cartoon counterparts, but the dogs of the Wan-Wan (“bow-wow”) Patrol are firm favorites in Tokyo’s Karasuyama neighborhood.
Twelve-year-old Yurika Igarashi counts on seeing Sakura, a fluffy toy poodle, when she’s on her way home from school.
“Sometimes I’m scared when I’m coming home alone, but I feel okay when I’m walking with Wan-Wan Patrol,” she said, gently cradling Sakura on her lap.
Sakura is one of 150 pups who form the Wan-Wan Patrol, a program that enlists dogs and their owners to turn their daily walks into a neighborhood watch, monitoring children, looking out for residents and helping deter crime.
The Karasuyama program is one of the oldest such community initiatives in Japan and was founded by a local police officer.
“Individual owners walk whenever they can and have their dog wear the same scarf,” said Keiko Shimizu, the patrol’s current leader.
Clearly marked canines patrolling the streets means “we can help make the neighborhood less prone to crime,” she added.
Many of the dog owners are parents of current and former students of the local school, but others just participate in the community watch as residents.
On one recent morning, five pooches in Wan-Wan Patrol’s lime-green neckerchiefs wagged their tails as they accompanied children going to elementary school.
Pu, a 17-year-old shih tzu, is one of the oldest members of the patrol and can no longer walk by herself. But she proudly participates from the comfort of a doggy stroller pushed by her owner.
“The program helps us get to know each other and become good neighbors, and I feel this place stays safe that way,” said Michiko Takeuchi, owner of poodle and Maltese mix Kojiro, and mother to a local schoolboy.
And the patrol isn’t just for show.
“We had a member who found an elderly person who had passed away alone,” patrol leader Shimizu said. “They realized by noticing a room light still on in the morning. We walk at around the same hours on the same route everyday, so it’s easier for us to notice if there is something unusual.”
Japan has a reputation as one of the world’s safest countries, with very low rates of violent crime.
But there are occasional tragedies, including a devastating accident last month east of Tokyo in which a drunk driver crashed his truck into a group of schoolchildren, killing two.
Jun Ameie, principal at the local Kyuden Elementary School, said the neighborhood watch helps reassure parents and children alike.
“Parents appreciate that many people in the neighborhood care and make sure the environments safe, especially these days when we hear a lot of reports about crimes involving children,” he said.
“I’m sure that children can play carefree outside of school and anywhere in the neighborhood, because they know many adults keep their eyes on their safety,” Ameie added.
For young Igarashi, the cuddly canines are a reliable source of comfort.
“Of course, it’s fun to walk with the dogs, but I also feel protected by them.”
When I visited John Lamorie’s eco-farm in Pingtung a few weeks ago, the first thing I saw when I stepped out of his car was an iguana running along the ditch that borders his property. “It’s been hanging around there for weeks,” he said. “Can’t get rid of him.” An invasive species from an exotic land that looks like a monster (the 1998 Godzilla film hints that Godzilla is a mutated iguana), iguanas have been in the spotlight for a year now, with a spate of articles highlighting their growing presence in southern Taiwan. The government banned their import in 2015,
Move to another country, learn the language there, then make a living by translating between that language and one’s native tongue. Since the Age of Exploration, countless people have trodden this path. In addition to those who have developed full-time careers in the translation and interpretation (T&I) industry, there are many who translate as a side gig. For decades, David Wang (王宇大) was one of the latter. Wang, who’s now semi-retired, moved to Canada with his parents in 1967 after graduating from elementary school in Taipei. When he returned to Taiwan in 1984, he immediately realized his fluency in English was
July 26 to Aug. 1 Five hours after they ventured inland, the European expedition party returned to the St Peter and St Paul with five Taiwanese prisoners — two of them seriously wounded. Three party members were struck by arrows. What’s believed to be the first European landing on the nation’s east coast 250 years ago obviously did not go well. According to the 1790 English translation of the Memoirs and Travels of Mauritius Augustus Count de [Benovsky], the 18-person group found a few people on the shore and asked for food. They were taken to a village and fed
In the first scene of Fragrance of the First Flower (第一次遇見花香的那刻), protagonist Yi-ming (Zaizai Lin, 林辰唏) accidentally wanders into a gay wedding. “Although same-sex marriage is legal now, she’s still a little surprised by it,” director Angel Teng (鄧依涵) tells the Taipei Times. “It still hasn’t been completely accepted as the norm. There’s still a little conflict there, and I like highlighting these subtle details found in everyday situations.” Legalization also had little impact on Yi-ming’s life, as she has a husband and son. But when she reconnects with her close high school friend Ting-ting (Lyan Cheng, 程予希), her suppressed