AOMORI, Japan >> A popular Akita dog known for being “ugly but cute” has been receiving condolence letters from all over the country.
Wasao was owned by Setsuko Kikuya, the proprietor of a broiled squid shop in Ajigasawa, Aomori Prefecture, who died in November at age 73. Since then, worried people have sent more than 100 messages of encouragement to the dog and Kikuya’s eldest son, Tadamitsu, 53.
Wasao has long been known as an “ugly but cute” dog because of his long hair and distinctive face, inspiring a photo book and a movie. An abandoned dog who used to have a rough temper, Wasao grew attached to Kikuya, who took him in, and he eventually welcomed tourists who came to the broiled squid shop Shichirinagahama Kikua Shoten.
When Kikuya was temporarily hospitalized about five years ago, his bushy hair sagged in his loneliness.
As news of her death spread, a number of letters arrived at the shop for Wasao. “She’s always watching over you from heaven,” one note read. Letters came even from the Kyushu and Kansai regions. Another letter to the dog read, “Live a long life for your mother.”
Tadamitsu took over the shop. He has also received messages of support like “Please take good care of Wasao.” He’s honoring his mother’s wish to keep the shop open, so as not to disappoint customers who come to see Wasao.
“My mother welcomed customers from the bottom of her heart,” he said. “I’d like to carry on her way of thinking with Wasao.”
The 11-year-old dog remains healthy.