Stand aside Hello Kitty, there’s a new tourism ambassador barking in Japan
HELLO KITTY fans from across the world know she holds the United Nations’ tourism ambassador title.
But she might have competition as Wasao the Akita Dog has been reappointed as tourism stationmaster in northeastern Japan.
The “good boy”, along with his wife and daughter, all have important roles to play at the JR Ajigasawa Station in the town of Ajigasawa, Aomori Prefecture.
Wasao, also known as busaiku which means ‘ugly” and “cute” in Japanese, has taken the role of the stationmaster.
His wife Tsubaki is serving as deputy stationmaster and their daughter is an official trainee, learning the cuteness ropes.
Wasao and his family rose to fame after a series of blog posts put them in the limelight, which then turned to TV appearances. And of course, the whole nation fell in love with the “ugly-cute” dog.
This adorable doggy clan isn’t the first to be appointed as station helpers in Japan.
Believe it or not, many station ambassadors, mascots, and masters are actually four-legged animals who have been drafted in to either boost visitor numbers to the town or get people using the line.
Some of the most peculiar cases of furry station mascots are two goats named Koma and Taro who performed stationmaster duties at Uzen-Komatsu Station in Yamagata Prefecture.
Also, the not-so-furry tortoise stationmaster that slowly performed duties at JR Ibusuki Station in Kagoshima Prefecture.
Over the last decade, Japan has certainly become a lot more pet-friendly, to the point that the birth rate in the nation is plummeting and the pampered pet market has soared to US$14 billion (JPY1.5 trillion).
Many couples and singletons are opting for pooches over children as they are relatively easier to look after and can be cheaper.
However, Japan’s doggies are some of the most pampered in the world, with owners buying entire wardrobes full of designer outfits.
While Wasao and his family won’t be getting any designer outfits, they will be adorning name bibs just to let everyone know who’s the (cute) boss.
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Source: Travels travelwireasia.com