Bronze statues of Tarō and Jirō in front of the Antarctic research vessel Fuji, permanently docked at the Nagoya Port.
Taro et Jiro, chiens de traîneau de Sakhaline, parvinrent à survivre pendant plus de deux ans sur le continent antarctique. Ils avaient été abandonnés avec 13 de leurs congénères par la première équipe de recherche japonaise possédant une base permanente sur ce continent, lors de l'hiver 1956. Ils furent récupérés vivants en janvier 1959. On érigea dans tout le pays des statues en leur honneur. Une chanson leur fut dédiée. En 1983, le film Antarctica (南極物語, Nankyoku Monogatari) qui relate leur histoire fut le plus gros succès de cinéma au Japon (12 millions de spectateurs). La même année, un membre de l'expédition, Kikochi Toru, fit paraître un livre de 366 pages : Inutachi no Nankyoku (Les chiens de l'Antarctique).
In 1956, Japan’s first team of researchers set off for the Antarctic on the polar research set off for the Antarctic vessel Sōya, taking with them 22 Sakhalin huskies, including two named Tarō and Jirō. The researchers were supposed to winter at the Antarctic Shōwa Base until the second team arrived, but when bad weather made that impossible they were forced to depart, leaving behind 15 of the dogs.
In January 1959, the third research team’s helicopter spotted two dogs alive at the old Shōwa Base. One of the men on that expedition told me later that he was afraid to approach the creatures at first because he assumed they must have gone wild by then. It was later ascertained that the two dogs were Tarō and Jirō, and that they were the only survivors from the canine team that had been abandoned. This was big news in Japan, where celebrations broke out everywhere. Memorial stones and statues commemorating the dogs were erected throughout the country, and a song was even written in their honor.
In 1983, more than 12 million Japanese flocked to see the film Nankyoku monogatari ( Antarctica) featuring Tarō and Jirō, giving it the top box office take of the year.
The book Inutachi no Nankyoku (The Dogs of the Antarctic) was written by Kikuchi Tōru, a member of the original Antarctic expedition.
La première expédition japonaise dans l'Antarctique avait été réalisée de 1910 à 1912. Ils avaient aussi des chiens de traineau, mais ils ne les abandonnèrent pas.
Le navire Kainan Maru, dirigé par le lieutenant Nobu Shirase (1861 - 1946), quitta Tokyo le 1er décembre 1910, atteint Wellington le 7 février 1911 puis rencontra les premiers icebergs le 26 février et navigua dans la mer de Ross. Ne pouvant accoster sur la Terre Victoria, en vue le 6 mars, il dut retourner en Australie pour hiverner (arrivée à Sydney le 1er mai 1911, où ils furent fort mal accueillis).
Le lieutenant Shirase retourna au Japon avec quelques membres de son équipage pour obtenir des fonds supplémentaires. Il était particulièrement exaspéré par le ton de la presse australienne et néo-zélandaise vis-à-vis de son projet. Il nota par exemple que le New Zealand Times décrivait son équipe et lui-même comme "un équipage de gorilles à bord d'un baleinier misérable, les régions polaires n'étant pas faites pour les bêtes de la forêt".
Après avoir quitté Sydney le 19 novembre 1911 pour une nouvelle tentative, il atteignit l'inlandsis de Ross le 16 janvier 1912. Il parvint finalement à atteindre le continent, après avoir rencontré le Fram, navire de Roald Amundsen, qui attendait, dans la Baie des Baleines, le retour de l'expédition terrestre de son capitaine. Le Kainan Maru rentra au Japon (où il atteignit le port de Yokohama le 20 juin 1912) :
Shirase was now faced with the task of getting his party to the top of the ice shelf, which was 300 feet high at the place where the KAINAN MARU was moored. "We were resolved to scale the so-called insurmountable barrier or die", wrote Shirase. Some 60 hours later, after cutting a zig zag path up the nearly perpendicular slope, the first men stood at the top. A small party was sent ashore to investigate the ice and when they returned with encouraging reports Shirase decided to make it the starting point of his so-called Dash Patrol. The Dash Patrol consisted of seven men, two of which would remain at the edge of the ice shelf as a base camp while the other five would make a dash to the south on sledges pulled by dogs. As it turned out, it was anything but a dash. On the first day blizzard conditions forced them to make camp after only eight miles. It would be two days later before the "dash" resumed but progress was again very slow since each dog had to pull 57 pounds. They struggled on, through terrible conditions, until January 28; they had covered 160 miles. The men stuck a Japanese flag, on a bamboo pole, into the ice and saluted the Empire with a threefold Banzai before burying a copper case containing a record of their journey. At this time Shirase made the wise decision to turn back for the ship.
While Shirase was off with the Dash Patrol, the KAINAN MARU had left the Bay of Whales to drop a shore party at Biscoe Bay in King Edward VII Land. The men were able to climb a 150-foot ice slope and go on to reach the foot of the Alexandra Range, which until then had not been seen at close range. A large crevasse prevented them from reaching the summit of the mountains but a memorial board was erected to commemorate the journey. After the men returned, the KAINAN MARU made her way back to the Bay of Whales. The wind was against her and it was not until February 2 that she could enter the bay. With considerable difficulty the Dash Patrol was taken on board and the ship made ready for her trip to the north. The ship made one more calling at Wellington and reached Yokohama on June 20, 1912.
The expedition had sailed over 30,000 miles since leaving Japan and despite not reaching the Pole, they had achieved all their other goals after departing from Australia. They may have left in a silent departure, but their welcome in Yokohama was a tremendous reception.
Le lieutenant Nobu Shirase lors de son expédition.
Un résumé de sa vie ici :
commenter cet article …