A couple of Akita dogs walk along the black wall of the samurai residence street in Kakunodate, Senboku City, Akita Prefecture. They are Su-chan (male, four-year-old) and Fujiko (female, two-year-old), who are well known as the signature dogs of Enishi, a private B&B owned by Mrs. Yoshimi. Kakunodate, known nationwide as the “Little Kyoto of Michinoku,” will soon be in full swing during the autumn leaves season. We visited the two dogs before it became crowded with tourists. (Reporting by Kazuya Kamada)
Su-chan weighs 25 kilograms, which is relatively small for an adult male Akita dog. On the other hand, Fujiko weighs 32 kilograms and is slightly larger than Su-chan but has slender legs and a small face. Their personalities are also contrasting. Su-chan is timid, easily scared of lightning and fireworks, and hates shampoo. Fujiko is a bright, positive dog. The two get along very well, and their owner, Mrs. Yoshimi, describes them as the vigorous wife and modest husband. Fujiko has a bigger appetite than Su-chan and sometimes eats the food that he has left behind.
One day in late September, Mrs. Yoshimi took them for a walk, accompanied by two female guests staying at Enishi. When Su-chan and Fujiko heard that they were going out, they became overjoyed. Perhaps in a fit of excitement, Fujiko grabbed the reporter’s slippers and tried to run out the door. Mrs. Yoshimi stopped Fujiko, telling her to “Put the slippers down.”
Even after the walk started, Mrs. Yoshimi had to pull hard on their leash in the beginning. “They are always so energetic when we first start walking,” she said.
Both dogs are friendly and don’t bark or growl at people they meet during their walk. However, one exception is when Su-chan approaches other female dogs and tries to touch them. When this happens, Fujiko barks at them fiercely as if she is jealous.
But after listening to Mrs. Yoshimi’s explanation, we realized that even Fujiko’s fierce barking appeared less intimidating and still sounded cute. It was clearly different from Su-chan when he barks at other Akita male dogs to fight for his territory, which exhibits the majestic vigor of Akita dogs. During Su-chan’s display of prowess, Fujiko was quietly watching from behind his brave face.
“Because we have two Akita dogs, a male and a female, it’s interesting to see the differences in their personalities,” said Mrs. Yoshimi. The two guests accompanying the walk are both huge dog lovers. They found numerous topics to talk about with Mrs. Yoshimi. “If I were running a normal inn, it would be unlikely to be able to spend so much time talking with my guests. The walk is such a great time for me too,” Mrs. Yoshimi said with a radiant smile.
One of the guests, a 69-year-old woman, has stayed at Enishi twice before. She told us that she used to have an Akita dog, but she gave up the thought of keeping another one considering her age. Therefore, her favorite thing to do now is to go and meet other Akita dogs. “Both Su-chan and Fujiko are very smart, and I think Mrs. Yoshimi has done a great job raising them,” she said with a smile.
As for the other guest, a 54-year-old woman, it was the second time she stayed at Enishi, which she learned about in a travel magazine last year. “I never thought I’d be able to interact with Akita dogs so intimately. I’m so thrilled!” she said cheerfully.