We live in an age where humans along with their endearing animals can become public figures. Some of you may follow Boo, the fluffy Pomeranian that has been named the world’s cutest dog, while others may laugh at wacky Grumpy Cat memes. The latest Japanese culture sensation is not from anime, manga or J-Pop, but is an 8-year-old Shiba Inu named Maru who has gained 2.4 million Instagram followers.
Maru’s owner, Shinjiro Ono, posted images of Maru since he was a puppy but initially only a few people were interested. After the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, Ono uploaded pictures of the round-faced Maru to boost morale of those affected by the catastrophe. Meanwhile, worldwide media focused on the calm response of the Japanese people in the wake of destruction. Ono believes “the image of a Shiba dog standing straight, looking serene and resolute, may have fit the image that people overseas have of the Japanese.”
Today, about 90 percent of Maru’s followers live outside of Japan. Ono continues posting to thank them for their support. Maru has also gained attention at home, however, and is the Mie Prefecture tourism ambassador and has a museum called Gallery Marusan in Tokyo.
Image courtesy of: https://www.instagram.com/marutaro