AJIGASAWA, Aomori Prefecture--Famed "ugly" Akita Inu Wasao will work as "sightseeing station master" of Ajigasawa Station here on East Japan Railway Co.'s Gono Line for another year after proving a hit during the last fiscal year.
Wasao, who is estimated to be 11, captured hearts across Japan with his quirky looks, often described as "busa-kawaii" (ugly-cute) in Japanese, and starred in an eponymous movie.
The letter confirming his post was officially delivered April 1 to the big white canine during an appointment ceremony in the square in front of the station.
Wasao’s "wife," Tsubaki, 5, will also continue to work as vice sightseeing station master, and their daughter, Chome, 2, was appointed as the apprentice sightseeing station master for the first time.
"We want to energize sightseeing at Ajigasawa Station with Wasao’s family again this year," said Takeshi Kudo, 50, of the Wasao Project at the ceremony held after Wasao’s letter was received.
Kudo appeared on behalf of Setsuko Kikuya, Wasao’s former keeper, who had passed away in November 2017.
The man's best friends in the three key posts later that day welcomed passengers off the Resort Shirakami No. 2 sightseeing train arriving at the station. The holidaymakers waved at the dog family through the train windows, taking photos of them.
"I was stunned to see Wasao who is bigger than I expected," said a smiling June Hirano, 9, who came from Hanamaki, Iwate Prefecture, to see him for the first time. "He is fluffy and adorable."
The dogs’ duties will entail welcoming and seeing off train passengers in busy periods.