Mrs. Yoshimi Azusa, born in Shiga Prefecture, is now running a B&B called Enishi in Kakunodate, Semboku City, Akita Prefecture. She used to travel all over the world as a tour guide for a major travel agency. But deep down in her heart, she had always wanted to open a Minpaku (private lodging service). When she learned that one of her acquaintances had a 50-year-old house in their hometown of Kakunodate, which had been vacant for a long time, she knew her opportunity had finally come. Mrs. Yoshimi rented the old house from her friend and renovated it, making it suitable for a B&B. Her sister Jun, who teaches hula dance, joined her on the endeavor. Together, they opened Enishi in August 2019. In Japan, the law limits the operation of private lodgings to 180 days per year. Therefore, they can only operate from spring to autumn. During the winter months, Mrs. Yoshimi lives in Tokyo and Sendai while working as a consultant for cruise ship tours.
Mrs. Yoshimi keeps her two Akita dogs, Su-chan (four-year-old male) and Fujiko (two-year-old female), leashed in the kitchen, living room, and other common areas for guests at Enishi to interact with during their stay. Other than that, they’re usually off the leash and free to roam. But according to Mrs. Yoshimi, “The two of them seem anxious about being in places where they can’t see my sister or me, so they never leave our sides.”
Mrs. Yoshimi is very active on social media platforms. She posts Su-chan and Fujiko’s daily lives on Instagram frequently. One thing that has become popular among guests is Su-chan’s harmless and simple gestures.
“Normally, dogs don’t show their bellies to anyone except their owners, but both Su-chan and Fujiko love to be pet by others,” said Mrs. Yoshimi. To see them in a completely relaxed state, some guests even give them a long massage, which they happily accept. Enishi offers an experience that dog lovers can’t get enough of; unlimited time to enjoy petting the fluffy Akita dogs. On the interview day, a couple in their thirties spent more than half an hour with the two dogs, petting and pampering them. However, they did not seem tired of the attention but somewhat satisfied. The couple shared their feelings, saying with smiles, “They are much bigger than we thought they would be from the pictures. They are so friendly and easygoing, and they don’t even bark at newcomers.”
There are no TVs in Enishi. “Sometimes we are interviewed by TV stations, so when we find out when it will air on the news, we have to go to our neighbors to watch it. It’s just like the Showa Era,” Mrs. Yoshimi said in laughter. The good thing is that guests rarely complain about not having a TV. According to Mrs. Yoshimi, many of the guests tend to go to bed early to join their morning walk without oversleeping.
The reason why Mrs. Yoshimi got an Akita dog was because she thought, “If I’m going to run a B&B in Akita, I should have a signature Akita dog.” She had never owned a dog before, let alone a large dog. But in the summer of 2018, right after she decided to open the B&B, she welcomed Su-chan into her home, who was nine months old. In the spring of the following year, Fujiko, then six months old, joined the family. “I never thought as I got older that my lifestyle would include thinking about my two dogs constantly,” Mrs. Yoshimi said while laughing. But her sister, Jun, had never liked dogs, ever since she was bitten by one when she was little. She recalled, “If I hadn’t met Su-chan and Fujiko, I wouldn’t have fallen in love with Akita dogs as much as I have now.”
Regarding the characteristic of Akita dogs being loyal to their owners, Mrs. Yoshimi said it is precisely what she had expected before she got an Akita dog. On the other hand, she said, “I thought I would be able to see Akita dogs everywhere in Akita, but I was surprised to find that this was not the case.” Mrs. Yoshimi continued, “When we are out walking, we have many people approaching us to say hello. The Akita dogs have made it easier for us to blend in with the town of Kakunodate and have connected us with the locals.” The sight of Mrs. Yoshimi and her two Akita dogs walking along the samurai residence street is a perfect fit for the relaxed and calm atmosphere of the town.