We’re not parodying the hundreds of parochial schools and Roman Catholic churches named after the Blessed Virgin Mary – there really is an “Our Lady of Akita.” It is the title associated with a wooden statue of Mary regarded by Japanese faithful as miraculous. In 1973, Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa living in the remote area of Yuzawadai (an outskirt of Akita, Japan) reported having seen an apparition of Mary reported apparitions, as well as having experienced stigmata, and seeing the wooden statue of the Virgin Mary weep over 100 times. As with other visions of Mary that occurred in Fatima, Lourdes, Guadalupe, Saint-Étienne-le-Laus, La Salette, Pontmain, Beauraing, and Banneux, the Virgin Mother brought a message that emphasized prayer and penance. This vision, however, was different in that the weeping statue of the Virgin Mary was broadcast on Japanese national television, and gained further notice with the sudden healing of hearing impairment experienced by the profoundly deaf Sister Agnes after the apparitions.
It’s possible that it’s a stretch on our part to connect a mystical Roman Catholic experience with the mysticism of a dog breed, but it’s not lost on us that there is a spiritual significance attached to the Akita in Japan. When a child is born there, the proud family typically receives small statues of an Akita signifying the hope for the baby to have health, happiness, and longevity. The ill also receive small Akita statues as an expression of a wish for a speedy and complete recovery. Little wonder that the Akita is one of seven breeds designated as a national monument in his native country of Japan.
Vintage Akita statuette found on Ebay (and currently up for bid)