Sled dogs that run long distances are hiding a very important secret that we humans would like to know more about.

During the harsh conditions of a race, the amount of energy that long distance dogs use up, is 10,000 calories per day. The muscles of a sled dog take up fat directly from their blood, and this fat somehow penetrates the cell membrane, where it is used as energy. This is a very interesting shortcut in energy consumption. More knowledge about this internal process, in future might become the key in solving diabetes or obesity in humans. When you recalculate the sled dog`s menu to that of people, it would be comparable to 60 BigMacs of McDonald’s per day for one adult. Keeping in mind that sled dogs are doing that for 10 days in a row, one has to admire sled dogs for the ability to consume so much.

The famous musher Jujiro Wada always took intensive care of feeding his dogs. On the trail he often hunted for food, but when no meat could be scored, he treated his dogs expensive canned foods. 

For more details on Wada`s travel see Life History

Family Tree

I was born in 1953 so I had 12 years to be with my Grandmother, Helen.

She lived on Plum Street in San Jose, California. That was about 18km from my parent’s house in Santa Clara. We went to visit her often.

Her house had a basement that was converted into a home. The basement house had its own entrance in the back of the house and my Grandma lived there. My Aunt Lorraine lived upstairs in the main house.

I remember going down the stairs into her house. It was always dark. Also in the back of the house there were stairs going up to the main house where Aunt Lorraine lived. We always used the stairs in the back to go down to Grandma’s house and the other stairs in the back to visit my Aunt. I don’t ever remember using the front door.

The back yard had a brick oven used for baking bread.

In the early 1960’s Grandma moved to Santa Clara and lived on Bonita Street. She was now closer to us; about 3.2km away.

We spent almost every Sunday at her house. Many aunts, uncles and cousins would be there too. We cousins had so much fun playing outside while the adults were in the house talking and preparing food.

In the backyard at the new house on Bonita Street was a wooden chicken coop that wasn’t being used. My brother and I were going to get ducks to have as pets and I asked Grandma if I could have the coop to keep the ducks in. She said yes and I can still remember loading it in the back of our station wagon car to take it home.

Now that Grandma lived closer, my brother and sister’s and I liked to ride our bikes to her house.  There were 3 creeks that flowed from the mountains and ran through Santa Clara and emptied into the southern end of San Francisco Bay. Each creek has a name, but we called them creek 1, 2 and 3. Grandma lived beyond creek 3.

We weren’t allowed to ride our bikes past creek 2, but when we wanted to visit her we asked our Mom if we could ride our bikes past creek 3 to visit Grandma and she always said yes.  

Whenever my family would go on vacation, Grandma would go to our house every day to feed our pets. We had three dogs.

She cleaned the house while we were gone and when we arrived home we knew the house would be spotless. The beds were all made and the sheets, blankets and pillow cases were freshly washed.

When she would clean my brother’s and my room and my three sister’s room; if any toys or any of our belongings were left on the floor or on our beds and not put away where they belonged; she would throw them away. We learned real fast to put all our belongings where they belonged before leaving on vacation because we knew if we didn’t, they wouldn’t be there when we got home.

Grandma had a big old brown car and when she was going to come to our house she would call my Mom and let her know she was coming. Mom would tell us kids and we got so excited. Our house was at one end of the street and Grandma would always come driving from the opposite end.

We lived on Thompson Place and my sisters and brother and I would stand in the street excitedly watching for her to turn the corner onto the street from the other end. When we saw her car we would yell with excitement and jump up and down. When she stopped in front of the house we would gather around her car door and when she got out we all tried to hug her at the same time.

We were so happy when she visited us. We would talk to her and tell her what’s been happening in our lives. She was so kind and loving to us.

One day there was a tragic event on our street. A woman who lived alone was murdered and her house set on fire. As the fire trucks, police cars and ambulance arrived with their sirens blaring all the neighbors came out to see what was going on. Everyone was shocked at what happened.

<……to be continued> Michael O’Hare


Jujiro Wada improved, explored and expanded the the Iditarod trail, as commissioned by the Seward Chamber of Commerce, together with Frank Cotter. Nowadays the trail opened by Wada and Cotter is still in use for racer, where musher and breeders can compete to show their expertise. Sled dog racing is far more than just navigating and steering. One has to understand the psychology of the dogs, and their physical strength. 


Only a few dogs can run in front as leader. For dogs running in front of the others is quite stressful. Therefore running in front is not for all. For that reason, it is best to take as many leaders as there are, and have them take turns running in front position, so to reduce their mental burden. It is the same with baseball, the team that can put up the largest number of skilled pitchers, is best suited to win. The other dogs just have to follow the dog ahead of them, so they endure much less mental stress. So in order to get as many puppies with leader blood, the leader dogs are bred with other leaders. They have both an extraordinary desire to run. For more details on Wada`s travels see Life History


Jujiro Wada improved, explored and expanded the the Iditarod trail, as commissioned by the Seward Chamber of Commerce, together with Frank Cotter. This was in 1909, conditions were harsh that year. In the midst of this exploration, his lead dog suffered from a frozen paw near Rainy Pass, where temperatures dropped to -62C. Wounded he could barely move forward. Frank Cotter wrote about about this episode in his memories about Wada in the Nikkei Weekly titled Ju Wada as I know him. For more details on Wada`s travel see Life History

The snow was especially hard and hurtful at this point of their journey. To reduce the pain at their feet, Wada made socks for his dogs out of his own spare cloths, made of deer hide. Nowadays dog socks are standard item called booties.

Successful mushing depends on the dog’s foot soles

The pioneers of of the Iditarod trail, Wada and Cotter, run into problems with the foot soles of their lead dogs, due to the long distance over hard frozen ice.   

The soles of the feet of sled dogs are robust and snow doesn’t stick to them. The soles of their feet might seem trivial, however this is the part of their feet that constantly comes in contact with the snow. When temperatures are below -30C, ice crystals become like shattered glass, and dogs can get wounded on their feet. It’s at such moments that there are differences in the degree dogs get wounded on their feet, depending on whether they have strong or weak foot soles.

Furthermore, dogs sweat at the soles of their feet, and depending on the quality of the fur on their feet, snow sticks to the fur and forms large snow balls, and that can become ice balls. Such ice balls cause injuries to the dogs’ feet. If wounded at the sole of their feet, it can form pus, or otherwise the pain can make their appetite go away, making it necessary to retire them in the midst of the race. To avoid such a scenario, dogs with weak foot soles need to always wear a kind of socks -called booties.

As it is a lot of work for the musher to make them wear these booties, the best is to use dogs with strong foot soles as sled dogs, thus avoiding all of this trouble. To breed excellent dogs suitable for racing, one has to think of all these details.


Jujiro Wada traveled from Seattle to Dawson in 1902 and along the route he passed through Skagway. In July he made it all the way from Dawson to Nome aboard the Yukon river steamer Rough Rider, where he took employment as a cook. The scenery he probably saw during his breaks is described below. For more details on Wada`s travel see Life History

With its source in British Columbia, Canada, the Yukon River is a mighty river that flows through Yukon Territory, cuts horizontally through Alaska, and then discharges into the Bering Sea. Its total length spans some 3,700 km. Right at half -length of the Alaskan part, mountains of a modest height close in on the river beds, with the river at some parts measuring a mere 200 meter in width. Locals call this part Rapid Canyon.

Every year June to August this becomes a perfect spot for the king salmon and chum salmon, that come all the way up from Bering Sea. During the short summer season, fishing camps are set up at various places along the Yukon River, and along this Rapid Canyon in particular. The fishing camps are places where Athabaskan Indians and others who rely on salmon for their food in winter, come after leaving their villages, set up camps on the river beds, and sustain their lives by catching salmon. They set up camp each with their family, and live together with their family on the river bed.

Quite a few of these kind of camps are scattered along the Yukon. Each camp holds a number of facilities, for example a simple hut, which becomes the center of life, a place that serves as sort of a drying rack for drying the gutted salmon and a shack where the salmon is smoked. The hut that becomes the living quarters of course is the place to hide from rain, but also doubles as the bedroom, kitchen and dining room.

Family Tree

I learned about my Japanese heritage from my Mother.

She sent me an e-mail explaining the information our family received from an author in Minnesota telling us that Jujiro Wada was the Father of my Grandmother. I was surprised and excited and hoping it was true, yet I was a little skeptical.

In the 1970’s and early 1980’s I was doing research on the family history of my Grandmother. I interviewed several of the older generation of the family who told me stories about our family, but no one ever mentioned Jujiro Wada.

Since my Grandmother was born in San Francisco in 1900, she was living there at the time of the great earthquake in 1906.

All birth, death and marriage licenses in city hall were destroyed by the earthquake and subsequent fire. Unfortunately, no family records exist.

I believe my Grandmother’s birth certificate would have given a lot of information.

My Mother sent me the e-mail address of the author who contacted our family with this information. I wrote to him and introduced myself and asked him if would share any evidence he had that would prove this to be true.

He sent me a copy of the letter my Grandmother wrote to Jujiro in Alaska looking for him.

The clincher for me that this was true were the copies of the 2 pictures he sent me that Jujiro took of his daughter and sent to his mother in Japan.

As soon as I saw them I knew that was my Grandmother. I had pictures of her taken about the same time of Jujiro’s pictures and there was no question they were the same person. I was excited and wanted to learn as much as I could about my Japanese heritage.

My Grandmother died when I was 12 years old, but I have very vivid memories of her. To this day I miss her. I’ve been to Japan twice and I want to go as often as I can to learn more about our family and to get to know all my relatives better.

Michael O’Hare


Children of Soga elementary school in Matsuyama interacted with Jujiro’s descendants.
Descendants of Alaska pioneer adventurer Jujiro Wada (1875-1937) visited Ehime Prefecture on 3 days from November 23.
On the 25th, the descendants interacted with about 75 children of Soga Elementary School in Hinode-cho, where Jujiro spent his childhood.
Jujiro’s descendants Sean O’Hare and Ryan O’Hare’s brothers came from San Jose, USA.
The elementary school students sang the songs that Matsuyama City Theater Company Mikan Ichiza performed when they performed a musical in Alaska.
When asked by the children about Jujiro’s episode, the descendants introduced, “Jujiro helped the ship that was wrecked.”
Miyu Kikuchi said, “I respect Jujiro. I was very happy to interact with the descendants. I want to know more about Jujiro.”
Sean was also pleased, “The musical story is a dream come true and has a positive impact on children.”
The three also visited the riverside park of Hinode town, where the Jujiro Wada memorial monument was built, and interacted with members of the NPO Jujiro Wada memorial association.

(Ehime Newspaper on December 1, 2019)


A Malamute, a dog breed well-suited to arctic conditions that Wada found very useful for mushing.

Wada proposed to Seward Chamber of Commerce to mush the Iditarod trail and proof that it was a very practical route from Seward to the mining town of Iditarod for the period when river navigation is hindered by ice. The prospect of increased traffic through Seward made Wada win their support and he mushed the trail, spotted locations suited to set up roadhouses, and improved the trail removing obstacles. His assistant in all this was Frank J. Cotter, who went on to write poems, published in 1918 as Rhymes of a Roughneck. In the poem The Malamute, Wada is mentioned once, and the lines thereafter likely reflect the mamories of their joint effort opening the Iditarod trail. Following “He” references to Wada, and possibly next “He” and “his” can be read as pointing to Wada, although some liberty of interpretation remains. Here an excerpt:

‘Twas a malamute first scaled the Chilkoot
  At the time of the great Klondike charge;
‘Twas a malamute first saw Lake Bennett
  And left his footprints at La Barge;
They hauled the first mail into Dawson,
  That Land of the Old Timer’s dream,
And when Wada first drove in from Fairbanks
  He was driving a malamute team.

They broke the first trail into Bettles
  With no guide save the lone Northern Star;
They freighted next year to Kantishna
  And from there to the famed Chandelar.
They know the long trail to Innoko,
  Tacotna and Iditarod too,
For there’s never a Camp in the Northland
  But what these same malamutes knew.

They brought the first sport to the Nome Beach
  Where they showed up in action and deed
That the North dog is game as they make them
  And besides that has plenty of speed.
He came home with the bacon from Candle
  Like a bat out of Hell, thru the snow,
And the plunger that cashed in his “out tab”
  Was his pardner, the Old Sourdough. …


The offsprings of Jujiro Wada, Sean O’Hare and Ryan O’Hare, and Joe Frio of their friend came to Ehime prefecture.
On November 25, they interacted with member of jujiro wada memorial association.
After that, they went to Soga Elementary School and the fifth graders of elementary school performed songs of Jujiro`s musical with a feeling of welcome to them. They were very pleased.
NHK, Nankai Broadcasting, Ehime Shimbun, and Ehime CATV covered it.
We would like to express my sincere appreciation for the cooperation of the Inoue Principal and other elementary school teachers.
Thank you to Eri Osakabe who volunteered as an interpreter.
Noriko Kan, who had other requirements and was unable to participate this time, met by chance at Matsuyama Airport and sent them off together.
It was a very good day.
We are very happy about that the elementary school children met descendants of Jujiro Wada and made their eyes shine.
And they said that they were proud of the local great man Jijiro Wada.
The elementary school children had a lifetime memory.
Sean, Ryan, Joe. Thank you very much for coming. 


Again a rotating exhibition is held by Uchiko Town featuring paintings by the late Toshio Wada, grandson of Wada`s only brother.

Until end of Oct, a changing selection of his paintings can be seen. He passed away last year November at the age of 93. He took a keen interest in painting also as a member of The Uchiko Committee for Lovers of Painting, and studied painting under Mr. Nakaoka in 1997. From then, every year during the Uchiko Culture Festival/Summer Festival Art Exhibition he had paintings exhibited all from the 1st Collective Hobby Painting Exhibition until the 17th edition. From 2013 and onward up till last year he had each year 3 of his paintings exhibited every year at the “Let’s Paint Our Surroundings” Exhibition.

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