Akita Manhole Covers 

Here are some more manhole covers. These ones are from Akita prefecture.

These racks of lanterns feature prominently in Akita City's largest festival, Kanto Matsuri. The manhole cover is in the city's downtown area.

Kamakurando, a tourist destination in Yokote City, has its own manhole cover design. The dog is Kamakurando's mascot, Nobu. Of course, he's an Akita dog.

Omagari is a city famous for fireworks, and the site of Japan's largest fireworks competition.
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And Now, a Word About the Dogs 

During a walk through town a couple of weeks ago, a car pulled off to the side of the road, and a couple got out. The woman waved at us, calling out a question: Akisora-chan desu ka? She had met the dogs in the park a few weeks earlier, and had been quite taken with them. Aki bounced and wagged and gave kisses and was terribly charming during their visit; Moki was aloof and not at all disturbed by the fact that the woman forgot his name.

Moki got his moment in the sun about twenty minutes later when a police van pulled alongside us. A policewoman leaned out the window and greeted him by name: Konnichiwa, Moki-chan! She had met the dogs outside the coffee shop at some point. Moki wagged and bounced over to say hi, then got distracted by some interesting-smelling weeds. He seemed happy for the attention, though he probably would have preferred that she gave him some dried sardines. That's what the neighbor down the street does sometimes.

A year after they came to Japan, the dogs seem to have settled into a rather happy existence. And, just as we've made friends and become recognizable members of the community, so have they.
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Guard Dog 

A giant snow dog stands as a guardian against thieves from the spirit world. By chance, it seems the camera even captured a ghostly thief in the foreground.
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The Little Dog Festival 

This weekend was Inukko Matsuri in Yuzawa City, Akita Prefecture. Inukko Matsuri, the "Little Dog Festival," dates back to the Edo Period (about 400 years). It is said that the festival originated after the feudal lord of what is now Yuzawa City defeated a clan of thieves. To protect their homes against future thievery, the townspeople put small dogs (inukko) made of rice flour in the entryways and windows of their homes. For the matsuri, groups build shrines out of snow, at the altars of which they place candles, offering boxes, and inukko.

The shrines have much larger guardians as well:

At night, the shrines and dogs are lit by candles, giving the whole park where the festival is held a magical, wondrous feeling.

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Memo From the Dogs 

To: Matthew and Stefanie
From: Moki and Aki
Re: Zabutons

Because we are Japanese dogs, we believe we should get to use the zabutons. Aki wants the red one. She also wants the kotatsu.

Also, Moki would prefer something a little larger.

Thank you.
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Moki Expresses an Opinion 

Opinions expressed in this photo are solely those of Moki, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Let's Sharing management.
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First Snow 

We've gotten varying stories on when the snow comes to Kitakami. Mostly, we'd been told the first snow is usually near the end of December, or not until January. But another local said it usually snows around the end of November or beginning of December. So we didn't really know what to expect.

Yesterday's forecast called for some snow flurries in the middle of the night. So, we were a little surprised that when we went out to meet some friends at 5pm, there was snow already falling, and by the time we returned home, there was even some on the ground.

This morning we awoke to six inches of snow on the ground, and big flakes still falling! Eventually the snow got much lighter and the sun came out, so we walked the dogs.

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Matter of Perspective 

Overheard in the park today while walking the dogs.

Adorable 3-year-oldish Japanese child looking at Moki: Ookii kuma! (Translation: Big bear!)
Child's amused mom: Inu da, yo. (Translation: That's a dog, actually.)

Incidentally, the big bear decided to eat a couple of green tea bags later in the day without our knowledge. At least he'll have a healthy immune system.
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Beautiful Day 

A glass of wine, some late summer fruit, and a picnic overlooking the Waga river. Who could ask for anything more? Even the dogs seemed to enjoy the fantastic weather.
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The Pied Mokers 

Moki and Aki are both tired and ready for a nap after their walk this morning. Why? Because it's hard out here for a 'keeter.

Near our house, there's a park along the Waga River where we frequently walk them. This morning, two groups of schoolchildren were visiting the park. Children always attract Moki's attention, and, because of his size, he always attracts theirs. One group of kids spotted Moki and Aki, and began clumping near the path to see them. The dogs headed toward them, anticipating attention.

It was a mutual lovefest. The kids chattered and giggled, exclaiming over the dogs: "Kawaii! Ookii!" (translation: Cute! Big!) They were very excited to meet Americans and American Akita dogs. The dogs happily accepted the petting, stretching out their heads and sniffing at the kids. After a time, we all said our goodbyes, and made to leave. Matthew, the dogs, and I approached the second group of schoolkids, who did not seem as eager to meet the dogs. No matter -- the first group of kids had followed us, continuing to pet the dogs and chatter. I think they would have come home with us, much to Moki's delight, if the teachers hadn't made them stay at the park.

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