Sasayama: as we do it...

Current state of the Sasayama appeal:

Meows from cats, why dogs have a nice new building and not us ?

The good news is that Japan's first ever international animal welfare centre opened up last May 2014, in Sasayama, Hyogo Prefecture. The first stage of this plan was the opening of the kennel block which looks wonderful and was admired by our guests at the opening party on 25th May who were delighted to see such a splendid facility for dogs in Japan. The kennels are built to the high standards of British shelter design, based on the Dogs Trust, with interior parts manufactured in and imported from the UK. Climate considerations have been taken into account; underfloor heating for the winter and ventilation plus air-conditioning for the hot and humid Japanese summers.

Although this is wonderful news, the reality is we have a lot of fundraising work to do. Already the infrastructure; roads, fencing, electricity, water, drains, septic tanks as well as planning fees, have cost a huge amount. But most donors want to see actual buildings where the animals can live, not unseen underground facilities. So it was important to have something tangible to show donors how their money was being used. We are now fund-raising for the next building which will be the CATTERY, ( please see plans in detail below) which is estimated to cost approximately at 1.5 billion yen. Many loyal ARK supporters have started to donate to this but we have a long journey to travel. Please help us get there as quickly as possible as the cats, especially, need us to do this.

Since cats are a little more fastidious than dogs about who they want to share space with, the cattery is designed with this in mind; single /double/ multiple enclosures with sleeping area, outside play area, and hopefully this outside area surrounded by a garden with butterfly- loving plants, to keep the cats active and happy, and the butterflies safe.

Cat lovers everywhere, now is your chance to contribute to a brilliant new state of the art cattery.


December 2014:
Crowd funding succeeded! Plaque for big donators.

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November 18th, 2014:
BBQ party for Japan-British Society.

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November 16th, 2014:
BBQ Party!

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August 2014:
Sponsored by DogsTrust in U.K.

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July 2014:
Days in Sasayama

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June 2014:
Boarding dogs from Tohoku.

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Wood chip for small dogland. Nice smell!!

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25th May 2014:
Kennel Opening Party!

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20th May 2014:
24 dogs moved to new kennel in Sasayama.

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May 2014:

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April 2014:
It's becoming a Kennel!

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February 2014:
Kennel materials arrived from U.K.

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December 2013:
Muneage, raising the roof . Sprinkling of salt, rice and sake around new building to ensure safety and good health of workers.

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November 2013:
Visit to shrine to bless the new kennel building. Main frame goes up

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May 2013:
Your personalized plate makes you a special supporter of Dogland Sasayama.

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May 2013:
ROAD completed!

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Oct 2012:
Warehouse completed! Our first building, a warehouse, has finally gone up in Sasayama. It contains an office for maintenance staff with a second floor above that for storage of light items, such as blankets. The main area will have banks of shelves reaching from floor to ceiling. Our biggest concern is storage protection of food for our animals. To prevent mice, and possibly snakes from getting in, there are electrically-powered double shutter doors so that a truck, for example, can enter through the outer door and once inside, that door closes and the inside one opens. To make sure everything is doubly secure, we are considering keeping a couple of resident warehouse cats in there as well, for extra protection.

Warehouse Warehouse Warehouse

Sept 2012:
The building starts ! Muneage ceremony, literally raising the roof for a new construction and to ensure the health and safety of all who build it.
Sprinkling salt, rice and sake at the four corners of the new building .

Warehouse muneage The warehouse

July 2012:
The building starts ! Ground-breaking Ceremony July 2nd 2012. A Shinto ceremony to purify the ground and ensure the safety of construction workers.

To ensure the safety of construction workers. A Shinto ceremony to purify the ground... Ground-breaking Ceremony July 2nd 2012.

May 2012:
Electricity arrives on the site. The Garden in full leaf.

Shade garden full of hostas Shade garden full of hostas Electricity comes to Sasayama! Oak tree in leaf

March 2012:
Tange Associates: Wonderful news - Tange Associates, the world famous architects has offered to donate its design services to ARK's new Sasayama animal shelter and sanctuary facility. Tange Associates has designed many famous buildings throughout Japan and around the world, including the spectacular Mode Gakuen Cocoon tower in Shinjuku.

This will not effect the total cost of the Sasayama facility.

Tange Associates is also helping in the re-building of places devastated by March 11th, 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami in Tohoku. Where possible it is using Kisen Cedar from Rikuzentakata, one of the worst hit areas, and other materials from Tohoku, in its re-building plans. ARK would be delighted to have some of these re-cycled materials used in the buildlings at Sasayama, so that we can, in a small way, contribute to the recovery of the Tohoku region.

In the meantime, plans are going ahead on the next stage of Sasayama's new facility; electricity cables, water pipes and internal drains will all be laid underground so that building can start.

January 2012:
Designs for Cat and Dog units.The cat and dog units will be made in England. These are the designs, sent by the manufacturer for us to check.

Glazed Front - dog sleeping quarters Gate - dog run Glazed front - cat sleeping quarters Cat Shelf Cat Ladder Mesh rear - cat run Pop Door

Drilling For Water. After one unsuccessful attempt to find water at 50 metres in the first hole bored, we struck lucky with the second one on 27th December 2011. This was at a well previously existing on the land, one which was thought to be empty. It was like a geyser when it came out and everyone got soaked. The well goes down 200 metres and from now we have to estimate how much water it can supply over the long term. We will need a lot of water !

We found water! We found water! We found water!

Drilling For Water. End of the year - and what a year it has been, with the terrible events in Tohoku. At Sasayama, all underground work has been done, the site is flat and ready to build on, Dog Land is in place and our English Oak is thriving. Now we just have to raise the funds for our buildings.

2011/12/24 : Main site: ready to build, when we have the money. 2011/12/24 : Drilling for Water 2011/12/24 Drilling for water 2011/12/24 Drilling for water 2011/12/24 Drilling for water

November 2011:
We plant the Oak Tree. This symbol tree was born in England. We had planned it for the area near the main gates, but it was starting to outgrow its pot, so it forms a centre piece in Dogland.

Oak Tree from England - planted 9:11:2011 Dog - Land : Oak Tree from England 2011/12/24: Dogland

October 2011:
Started Dog Land: this is a vast exercise area covering 2000 sq.metres for dogs and for holding events. Pasture green seed was spread in November and already the young shoots are coming through. From spring onwards it will be mown to form a lawn. Gradually we will landscape  with trees for shade and add features such as sandpits for digging, an agility course and a pool for cooling off. Currently, exercising animals is very labour intensive and takes up a large amount of staff time.  We don't need planning permission for Dogland and it is not so expensive. The site is leveled, resurfaced, fenced and the road extended out to it.

Dogland! Dogland! Dogland! Dogland! Dogland! Dogland! Road out to Dog Land

March 2011:
Earthquake and Tsunami in Tohoku: All our efforts going to rescuing/caring for animals from the disaster zone. Work continues at the Sasayama site, but at a snail's pace. The 'quake brings home to us just how much we need Sasayama.

Dogs from Fukushima Dogs from Fukushima Dogs from Fukushima Dogs from Fukushima Enclosures were split after the Tohoku earthquake

Early 2011:
Leveling of site: Massive amounts of earth had to be moved around, followed by construction of drainage system, fire-road, underwater tank for fire-fighting, fencing….  There is a HUGE amount of work that has to be done underground before we can start work on the buildings.

Vital, expensive, but soon to be buried... Vital, expensive, but soon to be buried... Vital, expensive, but soon to be buried... Vital, expensive, but soon to be buried... Vital, expensive, but soon to be buried... Vital, expensive, but soon to be buried... Vital, expensive, but soon to be buried... Vital, expensive, but soon to be buried... Vital, expensive, but soon to be buried... Vital, expensive, but soon to be buried... Vital, expensive, but soon to be buried...

Shade Garden: In the meantime, we plan, layout and build the "Shade Garden" as this does not require planning permission or much money. We are starting to use the site for Halloween parties, reunion parties etc.

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We are absolutely committed to building Sasayama to the same high standards as the best shelters in the UK and the US. We want it to be a beacon center in Japan, something that sets a standard for others to copy. With this in mind, we need the two people drawing up our detailed plans to see what facilities for animals are like abroad, so we take them on a short, eye-opening trip to tour some welfare centres in the UK. They come back with lots of ideas. First drawings are made.
Dogs Trust Site : Example of Facilities in the UK

Dogs Trust : UK Dogs Trust : UK Dogs Trust : UK Dogs Trust : UK Dogs Trust : UK

Surveying the land and surroundings and getting planning permission for groundwork. We have to keep the site within 10,000sq.metres, or a wholly different, even stricter set of planning regulations apply. Final site is 9999sq.metres ...
October 2008
First step is to clear the land of the - very tall - grass and scrub, so we can start to assess it properly. The land has an added bonus of hundreds of mature trees; maples, camelias, pines, bamboo, and other rare species. We want to preserve as many of these trees as possible. Fencing the land off to make it "ours" was a priority, so we build 100 metres of wall/fence along road,  with gates. We also build a Barbecue /picnic area, (quick, easy and cheap), so we can start to use the site for fundraising parties and the like.

Using the site
Picnic/Barbecue area IMG_8157_2 IMG_8175_2 IMG_8196_2 Using Sasayama

Some of the flowers and trees
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Building the gate
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Clearing the site
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March 2008
After several years of searching we found the 'perfect'  site for a new welfare centre.  But before completing the purchase it was important to win over the understanding of the local community, most of whom have an image of  dogs as noisy, smelly and troublesome. After extensive discussions with them, we purchased the 7000 tsubo site in Sasayama, about 40 minutes drive from our current refuge. The land was purchased in part using a bequest of 48 million yen.

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[2008: start]

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