1. Location, Location, Location With its tagline being “The hotel that never sleeps,” it’s no surprise that HOTEL the M INNSOMNIA akasaka picked an area that’s known not only for being culturally…

No trip to Kagoshima is complete without a visit to the landmark Hotel Shiroyama. Perched on a hill overlooking Kagoshima city and the mighty Mt. Sakurajima, this hotel should be at the top…

The holidays are just around the corner and many are looking for that perfect place for a romantic getaway. Just in time, hotel review management and marketing company TrustYou has announced their…

Japan is famed for a lot of things: sushi, cherry blossoms, shrines, technology…the list surely goes on. However, what we especially appreciate about this unique nation – especially in the striking cold…

Host to the foremost sacred location in Japan, Ise Jingu, and home to the most revered deity in the land, the sun goddess Amaterasu, Ise Shima in Mie Prefecture may from this…

As I stood on the edge of a seven-or-so meter drop, preparing to jump into the deep section of a river that was spending the better part of its time cascading down…

We see a lot of impressive montage clips come and go, but every now and then, there’s one that really catches our eye. This video, produced for the Japan National Tourism Organization…

Now that we have, with some resistance, put away our summer yukata, it is time to lap up autumn’s beauty before the sparkling winter holidays arrive. Break up the monotony of those…

We travel to Iwate Prefecture to find out more about a new crisis management workshop being held in a city that’s slowly recovering after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. When you stand on the…

Although it’s hard to even imagine snow at this time of year, in just a few short months, Akita Prefecture will soon be covered with it. The region – particularly the city…

Our thoughts about the Kansai train conductor who used the car’s announcement system to apologize for the large number of foreign tourists on a car? Not so much O-mo-te-na-shi, and a bit more “Oh My.” As…

From the country’s earliest recorded history to a best beloved tale of animal loyalty, these are a few of the things we cherish about this Japanese dog breed. 1. A Dog Famous for All Time Even before you set foot in Japan, you probably knew the story of Hachiko. The dog, an Akita that was born in the city of Odate in Akita Prefecture, belonged to Professor Hisaburo Ueno, who taught at Tokyo University. For a year and a half, Hachiko would walk to Shibuya Station, see him off to work, and like clockwork would be waiting for him when he returned. Sadly, the professor died one day at work in 1925. Of course, Hachiko (so named because he was the eighth in the litter) was there waiting at the station for his master. Hachiko returned to the station at the same time every day – for nine years, nine months, and 15 days – until he passed away on March 8, 1935. 2. Celebrated Statues Hachiko’s remains were laid to rest next to Professor Ueno’s at Aoyama Cemetery. But before he died, he had already been honored for his loyalty: a statue of the dog had been erected in 1934. Reconstructed in 1948, Shibuya’s Hachiko is now a tourist destination as well as, quite fittingly, a meeting place. The dog has gone on to inspire another pair of statues: at the Akita Dog Museum in Odate (see far right), a statue in Hachiko’s likeness waits patiently, facing in the direction of the original Hachiko statue, more than 650 kilometers to the south. Finally, in March 2015, a statue was unveiled at the Department of Agriculture at the University of Tokyo, which depicts a meeting, perhaps in the afterlife, of Hachiko and his beloved master. 3. A Tale Made for Retelling A tale like Hachiko’s couldn’t help but inspire other works of art as well. The story of this beloved canine has made its way onto the pages of children’s books in the US, and has been brought to life on the silver screen in Japan, the US (in a film starring Richard Gere), and even India. 4. A Deep History Of course, Hachiko belongs to the entire country of Japan, but it must be remembered that the story, and the breed, begins in Akita. The dog that would become the Akita inu is related to an even older dog breed, known as the Matagi, and it was famed for its size and its hardiness. Some of Japan’s earliest recorded histories include references to dogs that look like the Akita, and pooches with a similar appearance can be found in picture scrolls that date back to the Heian and Kamakura eras. In later periods, the dog that we now recognize as the Akita was celebrated as a guard and hunting dog, capable of chasing down deer, elk, and even bears. [caption id="attachment_112921" align="alignnone" width="800"] Of course, as a puppy, the Akita is known for being able to disable people with its cuteness...[/caption] 5. The Comeback Canine Despite the outpouring of love the people of Tokyo showed to Hachiko, the Akita breed was struggling to continue by the early 20th century. A pair of rabies outbreaks had decimated the population of purebred Akita dogs. By the end of World War II, there were as few as a dozen dogs that remained, according to some accounts. But thanks to the dedication of some Japanese breeders and enthusiasts who refused to let this proud line disappear into history, its numbers began to rise again, and now the Akita can be found around the globe, making appearances at dog shows around the world and becoming a part of families everywhere. 6. A Canine with High Standards Given its history as a hunting and guard dog, you would expect the Akita to be a large breed, and it is: male Akitas stand 24-26 inches (60-66cm) at the shoulder and can weigh up to 120 pounds, while females stand 22-24 inches (56-60cm) and can weigh as much as 110 pounds (50kg). They have thick heads that almost look bearlike, and are topped with triangular ears. A thick double coat would have helped keep the dog warm during the cold winter months. The upcurled tail, which you can also see on the smaller Shiba inu, is both part of the breed standard and is undoubtedly a charming feature for its owners. 7. Every Dog Has Its Day While the famous Hachiko is honored every year with a special ceremony on April 8, the city of Yuzawa holds a yearly festival in the middle of February that includes an homage to the Akita inu. During the Akita Inu-kko, which has been celebrated for more than 400 years, the copious snowfall that hits the region is used to make miniature versions of Shinto shrines, and plenty of canine inhabitants. Many breeds of dogs can be found among the snowy pack, but the pure white Akita inu holds a special place of pride. 8. The Akita Dog Museum Dog lovers who are making their way north should definitely visit the city of Odate, where they can visit the Akita Dog Museum, which was built to honor the storied breed that is associated with the region. Built in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Akita Dog Preservation Society, the museum is open from 9am to 4pm. Until November, visitors can see an Akita inu just to the right of the main museum building. Admission to the museum is ¥100 for adults and ¥50 for children, and considering the sheer amount of information available about this noble animal, it is well worth the visit, for dog lovers or anyone whose heart was touched by the story of loyal Hachiko. [caption id="attachment_112920" align="alignnone" width="800"] Just in case you needed a double dose of cute in your day, we'll close with this picture[/caption] The Akita Dog Museum Sannomaru 13-1, Odate City, Akita Prefecture www.akitainu-hozonkai.com/index.html Sponsored Post PLAY WITH AKITA INU DINE OR DRINK WITH THE AFFECTIONATE DOG IN TOKYO VISIT THE AKITA DOG MUSEUM AND MEET THE CUTE DOGS! For an extra 5% off use our coupon code TOKYOWEEKENDER during check-out. [/su_column][/su_row]