Google’s New “Dog View” Bolsters Japanese Tourism With A Huge Dose Of CuteJ. Swanson
Dogs are famed for their unfailing sense of direction, so much so that it almost seems strange nobody thought of enlisting dogs as tour guides prior to 2018. (No, we’re not counting the loyal pooch who made headlines last year after photobombing an entire roll of film by a South Korean street view photographer).
As it happens, it’s the northern hub of Odate City, Japan, that will go down in history for first collaborating with Google Maps to provide canine-driven virtual tours, aka Google “Dog View.” Of course, this mountainous region may have a leg up on the competition, considering the area is well-known as the birthplace of Akita dogs. Akitas are wildly famous in these parts, not only their beautiful coats and extreme hug-ability but also their unswerving loyalty. The local train station even boasts a statue of Hachiko, a WW2-era Akita who showed up to meet his late master’s 4pm train every day for nine years.
Naturally, it was this big-hearted breed – specifically, three Akita pups name Ako, Puuko, and Asuka – who were selected to introduce virtual visitors to Odate through tiny cameras on their harnesses. As part of the tour, dogs introduce visitors to Odate’s highlights, which include snow-covered trails, hot springs, an “Old Dog” shrine, and the local Akita museum. The 18-stop tour also includes a visit to Hachiko’s statue, which has since been rebuilt (the original statue was melted down to make war-time ammunition) to appropriately honor Odate’s namesake mascot.
Ako, Puuko and Asuka have helped make “Dog View” such a success that Google plans to roll out even more destinations, with different dogs, to reflect changing seasons. The inaugural collaboration showcased snowy Odate and the city’s signature mountain dog, but spring is just around the corner, so stay tuned.