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Famous comedian/actor Ken Shimura, Japan’s first known celebrity to become infected with coronavirus, died last month at the age of 70, with several ambitions left unfulfilled. His death came as a shock to many generations of Japanese, the Tokyo local having made an imprint on TV screens that spanned 6 decades.
One particular role he was well-known for was head zookeeper on the variety show “Genius! Shimura Zoo,” in which he presented positive ways of interacting with animals. Shimura’s dog named Chibi, a stray at one time, was a recurring character on the show since April 2013.
When he was not performing, Chibi would often stay at Dog School boarding house in Tokyo. That’s where the popular dog met sumo stablemaster Asahiyama, former Sekiwake Kotonishiki. The two formed a bond, and eventually Chibi came to live in the stable. Before his death Shimura would periodically visit his beloved dog at his new home.
“He’s doing well. He still loves his somen and udon noodles,” said Asahiyama-oyakata, “He’s a healing presence. It’s good for the wrestlers to have a living thing to take care of.” The wrestlers have still been taking Chibi for walks, while observing proper precautions against virus spread of course.
Asahiyama went on to express his sadness at the passing of one of his generations big stars, “It was an untimely death. It’s really unfortunate. I hope he can rest in peace knowing that Chibi is living happily here.”
Other popular stable pets include Arashio-beya’s cats Mugi (died last year) and Moru, Sadogatake-beya’s toy poodle Sakurako (a pet naming tradition based on former Sadogatake-oyakata, Yokozuna Kotozakura), Asakayama-beya’s dogs Shebi (Chevy) and Fodo (Ford), and Isenoumi-beya’s toy poodle Yuki.
More about Ken Shimura (English): https://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2020/03/30/entertainment-news/ken-shimura/#.Xo5op4hKjIU
Source article (Japanese): https://www.nikkansports.com/battle/sumo/news/202004080000439.html