The substance of activities to be seriously challenged “now that Viking is over” by Shinobu Sakagami | FRIDAY DIGITAL

The substance of activities to be seriously challenged “now that Viking is over” by Shinobu Sakagami

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Not a dream, but a challenge.” The Vikings have rebuilt something that was ridiculed for not lasting a year. I have a vague feeling that it will be a greater battle than it was then.”

Actor Shinobu Sakagami, 54, who was known for his “poisonous tongue” on “Viking More,” for which he served as MC for eight years, expressed his determination to protect animals with a calm expression.

On April 4, Sakagami Shinobu opened “Sakagamiya,” an animal shelter in Sodegaura City, Chiba Prefecture. The 15,000-square-meter site, which includes a large pond, was built entirely at his own expense, from the selection and purchase of the land to its construction. Sakagami, whose “Viking” program ended this past March, says that he will actively engage in animal protection activities here from now on.

Smiling naturally in front of dogs

The 225-square-meter house is for dogs on the first floor and for cats on the second floor, and six dogs and 10 cats are already living here at present. A cat run with a sunroom has also been installed so that the cats do not feel stressed even on rainy days. The cages for the dogs are wooden and warm, and there are rooms for staff to sleep on the first and second floors, each with three washing machines for humans, dogs, and cats. Shinobu Sakagami explained in his own words, “We can accommodate up to 20 dogs and cats.

We can accept up to 20 dogs and 50 cats. In the second phase of construction, we would like to add an isolation facility where cats with infections can stay. The initial costs alone are substantial. I don’t mind taking it out for the first year, but that would be a drain on me forever. It may be a bad word, but I want to make animal protection activities sustainable by ‘turning’ them into a business.”

In Japan, the style of animal protection activities is based on “goodwill” such as volunteer work and donations, but Sakagami has decided that it would be difficult to expand his activities in this way. He says he will operate “Sakagami-ya” for profit and pay the staff to make it a viable business.

Three washing machines, including one for the staff, are installed.

He said, “I have a name, ‘Shinobu Sakagami,’ so it’s not bad to use my name for these activities. There is nothing wrong with using my name for these activities. In the future, I am thinking of making pet food and goods. If I can offer something of high quality or something that I want but has not been realized, there are people who are willing to pay money for it with conviction. By making this “Sakagamiya” a proper business, conservation activities can be sustained. If we can make it a viable business, I expect it will spread to other areas.

He realized that both the animals and Sakagami himself would be more energetic if they were in contact with soil and greenery, so in 2015 he built a second house in Uchibo, Chiba, where he began living with his seven dogs. He also lived with dogs that had been left unsold at pet stores and dogs that were missing one leg and distrustful of humans.

He said, “These dogs were abandoned and sheltered by humans, so we spend a lot of time trying to get them to trust humans again. I learned how to deal with them one by one, as they all had different personalities. There were times when I made mistakes, such as forcing a dog to go for a walk even though it didn’t want to. There were also times when I got sick and had to say goodbye to them. Living with animals is not all fun and games. That is why we know that some lives can be saved.

Pets are becoming increasingly popular as people spend more time at home due to the Corona disaster. According to the Pet Food Association of Japan, the number of new pet owners in 2008 was 416,000 dogs, up 18% from the previous year. The number of cats increased 16% to 460,000. 2009 also saw an increase over the pre-Corona disaster period, with 397,000 dogs and 489,000 cats.

On the other hand, there have been cases of people giving up their pets due to economic hardship caused by the Corona disaster or abandoning their pets after taking the easy way out. Under such circumstances, if Shinobu Sakaue appeals for the protection of animals and the improvement of their environment, she will be able to convey to the public at large the meaning and responsibility of pet-ownership.

Until now, I had decided that I would not get involved in politics even if I died. But I realized that if I talked to politicians and bureaucrats about animal issues, I might be able to solve some problems. What can I do for animal protection? I will never run for office, but I might support a candidate with a conservationist agenda. I retired from Viking because I wanted to devote more time to animal protection activities. In that sense, it is not a dream, but a challenge, a battle.

With a warm expression on his face, he says he wants to reduce the number of animals suffering from misfortune, even if only a little. Sakagami has boosted the ratings of “Viking” by four times. He is sure to show off his skills at the “Real Version of Sakagami Animal Kingdom” in Uchibo, Chiba Prefecture.

  • Interview and text by Daisuke Iwasaki

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