Ako and Asuka, two Akita dogs that come from the snowy region in the north of Japan, were put to work by Odate City to help give people around the world a chance to see the city from a dog’s point of view. The dogs were set up with Google Street View cameras – which can be rented out from the tech company – attached to a dog harness. The dogs then went out for an energetic tour of the city and the gorgeous, wintry landscapes that surround it, and now users around the world can see the sights along with the dogs’ adorably fluffy heads.
The dogs are important part of the local history and culture in their namesake prefecture, making them the perfect way to see the sights of Odate City. The city, with a population of only 75,000, is not currently a big tourist attraction, but perhaps the pups could change that. Located near Towada-Hachimantai National Park, the city gets heavy snows in the winter.
One of Odate City’s most famous former residents happens to be one of country’s most beloved dogs. Hachikō was an Akita born near the city back in the 1920s. He was brought to Tokyo by a professor and the dog would wait for his owner daily near Shibuya Station. After the owner’s unfortunate death, Hachikō would return to the station daily at the time his owner’s train was supposed to arrive. The people of Japan came to view him – and the Akita breed – as a symbol of loyalty, similar to the story of Edinburgh’s Greyfriars Bobby. A statue of Hachikō was erected at Shibuya Station before the dog died.
Anyone who wants to learn more about Hachikō can do so in Odate at the Akita Dog Museum. If you want to get a sense of the city in advance, check out the Google Street View tour here.