The Yomiuri ShimbunAKITA — An Akita dog stuffed toy has sold out after reports late last month that Russian figure skater Alina Zagitova — who won a gold medal at the Pyeongchang Olympics — was sent one by the Akita prefectural government. The development has delighted locals, who are highly optimistic about the so-called Zagitova effect, and local officials expect the excitement to boost the profile of the Akita region and its namesake dog.
Zagitova, 15, fell in love with Akita dogs after seeing a picture of the canine, and asked her mother to get her one. Akitainu Hozonkai, a public interest incorporated association, is currently preparing to deliver a real Akita dog to the Olympic champion.
The toy Akita, which is 20 centimeters tall and features the Akita dog’s characteristic curled tail, was jointly developed by Akita Airport Terminal Bldg. and the Odate-Noshiro Airport terminal building company. Five thousand units were produced and put on sale late last year for ¥1,480 each (including tax).
According to Akita Airport Terminal Bldg., inquiries and orders for the dog from both in and outside the prefecture surged after it was reported on Feb. 28 that Zagitova was presented with one. They sold out on Tuesday, with 1,200 to 1,300 units sold in March alone. Additional production orders have been made. A sales official said, “We’d like to resume sales before the Golden Week holiday.”
The stuffed animals also sold out at Odate-Noshiro Airport on Monday. “We’re very surprised because we originally planned to sell all the toys over one or two years. We’re really feeling Zagitova’s influence,” an official noted.
The Odate city government sent Zagitova a cap and a T-shirt featuring Hachikun, the city’s Akita dog mascot, along with the prefectural government’s gift. Sales and interest in those items also increased, according to the city.
“We want to use this as an opportunity to boost interest in Akita dogs and the city of Odate. We hope Zagitova posts a photo of her wearing the goods on SNS,” said an official for the city government’s tourism section.Speech