A heart-warming story of the “busakawa-ken” (means “ugly but cute dog”) Wasao,
as furry as a lion’s mane, and the people around him in the northern land of Aomori
Principal Photography: October-November 2010
Completion: January 14, 2011
Japanese release: March 5, 2011
The Shirakami Mountain Range of the Tohoku region drew much attention as the area where Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke) directed by Hayao Miyazaki was set in. Within its northernmost reach lies Ajigasawa, Aomori Prefecture. This fishermen’s town is known for the most beautiful sunset in Japan, and is the home to a dog which has made himself a name with his adorable appearance… His name is “Wasao.” Unlike a typical Akita Inu breed, this three-year-old male dog with a unique face is covered in a thick layer of white fur, giving him a look of a lion.
Wasao instantaneously became an idol of Japan as people wrote about his distinct presence and charms in their blogs. He has become the new craze, being featured in over 30 magazines and making appearances in over 50 TV programs across Japan. The number of tourists driving over to see Wasao on weekends and holidays has reached 2,000 per day, even causing traffic congestion!
And now, Wasao will make a screen debut! Wasao will be playing himself in this film which tells the sentimental yet heart-warming story of his past that has never been told before.
The lead role Setsuko, the owner of the main character Wasao, will be played by Hiroko Yakushimaru (“A Good Husband” “Always – Sunset on the Third Street”), the all-time glorious, legendary film actress of Japan.
The affection and bond between the people around Wasao will be depicted by Director Yoshinari Nishikori, who touched the hearts of the audience with an invigorating feel in his film RAILWAYS in 2010.
The entire film was shot in Ajigasawa, Aomori Prefecture, known for the most beautiful sunset in Japan. An ultimate family film of a heart-warming, tear-jerking story told in the astonishingly beautiful nature!
A big Akita Inu dog, covered in long white fur like his ancestors, is looking out from inside a freight train which left from Tokyo. Although exhausted and his legs feeling as heavy as lead, the dog continues on his journey.
Ajigasawa in Aomori Prefecture with the Shirakami Mountain Range in its background. The Akita Inu dog appears before Setsuko, a big-time animal lover, who is feeding six other dogs. The dog does not touch the food offered to him, but instead fixes his gaze on a boy.
The boy, Akira, who also loves animals, is always helping Setsuko take care of the animals. He and his older sister are also taking care of their mother who was in an accident and is now staying at a hospital.
The town where sumo wrestling and triathlon has been popular is loaded with interesting characters - the three elderly customers of Setsuko’s store, three junior high school students, her husband and his buddies, as well as other locals.
One day, many people in this peaceful town of Ajigasawa witness an unidentified animal, which some claim it looked like a lion, while others describe it was more like a bear. The farm crops were being eaten by it and many raised concerns for the children’s safety, which led to the plan for a hunter to terminate it.
The Akita Inu dog which appeared before Setsuko looks like a lion. After some effort by Setsuko, the dog had finally started eating a little of what she offers him. However, he still hardly lets anyone near him, and comes and goes as he pleases. Curiously, the dog always seems to cheer up the elderly and the junior high students who are hard at training for a triathlon tournament, and show concern for the old dog Setsuko had taken under her wing. Setsuko, on the other hand, is worried that the dog might get mistaken as a bear ruining the farm crops and get shot.
Setsuko extends her love and care to all who are living out one’s life. Akira loves dogs, but cannot fully open up as a puppy had caused his mother’s accident. The mysterious dog stays by their side as if on a mission of his own.
The story unfolds while featuring a triathlon tournament, the local Nebuta Festival and a number of other events. The love for the nature, people and animals nurtured in the northern land. The affection as a person, the love for our mother nature and all lives. A tear-jerking touching story told with the pure heart of a speechless dog.
In 1978, at the age of 14, she made her screen debut as the heroine of 野生の証明Yasei no Shomei (Proof of the Wild) starr. Ken Takakura 高倉健and Ryoko Nakano 中野良子, directed by Junya Sato 佐藤純弥（『君よ憤怒の河を渡れ』 (1976) 『未完の対局』 (1982) 『敦煌』 (1988). Ever since, she starred in a number of major hit films, such as Sera-fuku to Kikanju (Sailor Suit and Machine Gun) (1981), Tantei Monogatari (Detective Story) (1983) and W no Higeki (W’s Tragedy) (1984), and became one of the top actresses of the 1980s. In 2006, she won the Japan Academy Prize for Best Supporting Actress with Always San-chome no Yuhi (Always - Sunset on Third Street), and is now one of the established actresses representing Japan. Her other major films include the Kisarazu Cat’s Eyeseries (2003, 2006), Operetta Tanuki Goten (Princess Raccoon) (2005) directed by Seijun Suzuki, TV drama Ichi Rittoru no Namida (1 Litre of Tears), Tetsujin Niju-hachigo (Tetsujin 28) (2005), Arigatou (Thank You) (2006), Always Zoku San-chome no Yuhi (Always: Sunset on Third Street 2) (2007), among others. In 2010, she co-starred with Etsushi Toyokawa (“Love Letter” “20th Century Boys”) in the tear-jerking romance Kondo wa Aisaika (A Good Husband) directed by Isao Yukisada (“GO” “Crying Out Love, in the Center of the World”).
Born in Shimane Pref in 1962. In 1996, he debuted as a feature-film director with BUGS, which he both wrote and directed. In 1999, he was recognized as the writer and director of the film Mamotte Agetai! (Will Be There for You). His first film to be set in his hometown, Shimane, Shiroi Fune (The White Ship) (2002), marked the highest national box-office revenue of all Japanese films screened at small theaters that year. The film Un, nan? (Un-Nan: The Legend of the Eight-Headed Serpent) (2008) depicting a myth is set in Unnan City in Shimane Prefecture. Other films he directed include Heart of the Sea (2003), Miracle Banana (2006) and RAILWYAS (2010) starr. Kiichi Nakai. He is highly regarded for his detailed depiction of ordinary daily scenes and a warm cinematographic feel.