Visit Akita, The Hometown Of The Loveable Akita Breed | CoolJapan

Many of us would be none the stranger to Hachiko, the famed Japanese dog fondly remembered for his extraordinary loyalty. With his dignified demeanour and extremely loyal character, Hachiko's poignant story touched the hearts of people and spurred an adoration for Akita dogs all over the world.

Hachiko Statue In OdateStatue of Hachikō in Odate, Hachikō's original hometown. Photo by 掬茶/CC.

A statue dedicated to Hachiko was erected in 1934 in front of Shibuya Train Station, where throngs of tourists visit every year. But, wouldn’t it be a more memorable experience to visit the birthplace of Hachiko and get up-close to real Akita dogs in their lovely hometown of Akita prefecture? Here’s a complete guide on how you can make a date with the cutest Akita dogs the next time you visit Japan.

Home of the Akita Inu

Originating from the cold mountainous regions of Akita prefecture, this distinguished breed of Akita Inu (Inu means dog in Japanese) was often used as hunting companions and guard dogs for royalty in the past. In fact, these loyal and powerful dogs have an incredible history that goes back 1,000 years.

Being one of only six dog species indigenous to Japan, the Akita Inu was officially recognised as Japan's national monument in 1931.

Akita InuPhoto by uadrienn from Pixabay.

Not surprisingly, with its recent rise to global popularity, the townspeople of Akita prefecture has dedicated tourist sites and festivals for its beloved Akita Inu so that everyone can get to know these fluffy canines better. Add these spots to your must-visit list!

Akita Dog Museum

As the only museum in Japan that is dedicated to Akita dogs, it is a must to include the Akita Dog Museum on your itinerary. Located conveniently at the headquarters of the Akita Inu Preservation Society in Odate city, this one-of-a-kind museum is a treasure trove of information all about Akita dogs.

Containing photographs, artefacts and memorabilia, visitors can learn a lot about the role of Akita dogs in Japan's history and understand more about this breed’s unique characteristics. Fans of Hachiko would also be delighted to find a gallery dedicated as a loving tribute to his touching story.

Needless to say, the highlight of the museum would be an exciting possibility to say hello to and interact with real Akita dogs and be greeted by not just one but four unbelievably cute fluff balls that will melt your heart in an instant. Do not forget to get a huggable Akita dog plushie from the museum's gift shop as a memory keepsake.

Tazawako Kyoei Palace

Tazawako Kyoei PalaceLake Towada in Akita prefecture. Photo by Aomori prefecture tourism.

Located beside the shore of Lake Tazawa, Japan’s deepest lake in Semboku, the Tazawako Kyoei Palace is a favourite rest stop for weary travellers looking to rest their feet while having a spectacular view of the lake. 

Of course, another reason for this restaurant-cum-souvenir shop's popularity is meeting the three charming resident Akita dogs who have been living here since 2007: Sora, Gon and Na Na. With the most adorable faces, pointy ears and fluffy wagging tails, it is so easy to fall in love with these endearing creatures.

Besides taking pictures and playing with these precious dogs, there are other activities you can do here. Rent a bicycle to explore the picturesque surroundings of Lake Tazawa, check out the local Akita chickens or try local Akita delicacies such as Inaniwa udon noodles and traditional Yokan sweets.

Senshu Park

Also commonly known as Chiaki Park in current times, Senshu park is the site of the historical Kubota Castle that was built in 1604. Today, although only ruins of the castle remain, its surrounding park offers a lush natural environment and blooms seasonally with flowers for the citizens of Akita to enjoy.

From the months of May to October, a designated spot at Ninomaru Square in Senshu Park opens where visitors can get a chance to see a local Akita Inu up close. The dogs are placed there on a voluntary basis by their proud owners for people to admire and interact with. One dog will normally be available per event and the session usually lasts from 11 am to 3 pm.

A queue typically forms as everyone is excited to take pictures of the adorable doggies on display, but the wait is definitely worth it.

Furusawa Onsen

Can you imagine the bliss of walking into an onsen and being welcomed by gorgeous Akita Inu on reception duty? Well, visitors can look forward to this unique hospitality experience at Furusawa Onsen, a quaint hot spring resort that is only a seven-minute drive from Odate Station.

Two Akita dogs, mother (Haru) and daughter (Hana), are the fluffy resident staff tasked with welcoming guests and they do a pretty good job at it judging from the increase in domestic and international tourists who come to catch a glimpse of them.

Having been in Furusawa Onsen for quite some time, these friendly Akita dogs are comfortable with people and this makes for a wonderful opportunity to capture many cute pictures of them. Whether you are here to soak in the healing waters of the onsen or stay at the resort, their presence will brighten up your day and make you feel all warm and fuzzy.

Playdate With An Akita Dog

Those looking for a more immersive experience would love the idea of a playdate with a local Akita Inu. Fortunately, Noshiro Kojuso, one of the few breeding kennels for Akita dogs in Japan situated in the rural fields of Noshiro city, offers this exciting opportunity! This "Walking with Akita" programme was launched in November 2019 as the kennel's initiative to increase awareness and interest in this indigenous breed that Japan is so proud of.

Noshiro KojusoImage by uadrienn from Pixabay.

Under the guidance of a professional handler, visitors can take an outdoor walk or just play with these gentle giants at the kennel’s venue. These dogs are well-trained so set your heart at ease and enjoy your time with them.

Go back home with an unforgettable local experience, complete with photos of you and your new furry friend that your handler will capture for you. And, if you fall head over heels in love with one of the Akita dogs, you can give them a home and keep as a loving lifelong companion.

(Cover photo from: uadrienn from Pixabay)

  1. 1.Akita Dog Museum
  2. 2.Tazawako Kyoei Palace
  3. 3.Senshu Park
  4. 4.Furusawa Onsen
  5. 5.Noshiro Kojuso
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