National

Exhibit celebrating Akita dogs opens in breed's hometown of Odate in northern Japan

Kyodo

A permanent exhibit showcasing the Akita dog breed opened Wednesday in Odate, Akita Prefecture, the city that is regarded as the home of the internationally popular breed.

“I hope a big circle of people who like and keep Akita dogs will spread around the world,” Odate Mayor Junji Fukuhara said during the opening ceremony.

To mark the opening, visitors can meet the “real Hachiko,” a dog famed for loyally waiting for his deceased master for years near Shibuya Station in Tokyo.

The stuffed body of Hachiko, which is usually displayed at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo, will be exhibited through Sunday at the facility, the design of which is based on the exterior of Shibuya Station during the Taisho Era (1912-26).

Akita dogs, known for their loyalty to their owners, were popularized outside Japan through the 2009 film “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale” starring Richard Gere and have been adored by celebrities, including Russian figure skating star Alina Zagitova.