Two ANA cabin attendants, temporarily assigned as members of the community-reactivating cooperator squad for Odate City, Akita Prefecture, are actively promoting the appeal of Akita dogs on social media. They will be guiding an online tour for Akita dog attractions in Odate City and are preparing for the event, hoping, “More and more people will know the charm of Akita dogs and Odate City.”
The two cooperators are Ms. Matsuo Miki from Kita-Akita City and Ms. Tanabe Shiori from Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture.
Ms. Matsuo attended high school in Odate City. She says she often saw Akita dogs greeting tourists at the JR Odate Station. When she moved to Tokyo for college, she discovered a bronze statue of the loyal Akita dog Hachiko in front of Shibuya Station, and even an exit called Hachiko–guchi (exit).
She continued, “I was surprised to know that Akita dogs, which were just a part of my daily life growing up, were so popular and renowned in the big city.”
After Ms. Matsuo joined the squad members, she has become more familiar with Akita dogs. She commented cheerfully, “The more I interact with them, the more I am drawn to their loveliness.”
On the other hand, Ms. Tanabe first learned about Akita dogs from the 2009 US movie HACHI: A Dog’s Tale starring Richard Gere.
“I thought Akita dogs were not sociable, showing interest to no one except their masters,” Ms. Tanabe said. “But when I got to know them, I found that many of them are friendly; some dogs even playfully jumped on me. The puppies are especially cute. I wondered how anything could be this adorable in the world.”
Soon after being assigned to Odate, Ms. Matsuo and Ms. Tanabe opened an account on Instagram under “Odate Community-Reactivating Cooperator Squad Tourism Team” and shared various topics about Akita dogs and Odate City. They reported the growth of Akita puppies born in Odate City and posted their experience of ‘junsai picking’ (junsai is a unique vegetable growing in the water) and making kiritampo, Odate’s traditional dish. They also started Twitter in June 2021 and YouTube in July.
Commenting on sharing information about Akita dogs, Ms. Matsuo said, “It is one of the most important ways in conveying the charms of Odate.” While Ms. Tanabe said, “It can expand the possibility to connect Odate City with people around the world, like the cases of Akita dogs given to figure skater Alina Zagitova and President Vladimir Putin.”
Comments on their social networking sites include “I always look forward to seeing your updates” or “Akita dogs are so cute.” Ms. Matsuo expressed her gratitude, saying, “I’m so encouraged by all the heartfelt reactions,” and Ms. Tanabe said joyfully, “As we continue to send out information, we feel our social network is constantly growing.”
Ms. Matsuo said, “Shibuya Ward in Tokyo and Odate City in Akita are connected through loyal dog Hachiko. We want to help build a stronger bond between the two cities through various projects.” Ms. Tanabe said, “If anyone has an interest in visiting Odate through our social media, please send us a message. We are happy to provide sightseeing plans, including highlights of the city and delicious food to try.