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'Paw-fect' presents: Locals team up to create cute Akita dog masks

Adult and child-size handmade masks made by local firms in Akita are shown in this photo provided by Akitakensan Co.

AKITA -- A wholesale shop in this northern Japan city that sells local souvenirs and specialties has teamed up with a local traditional crafts manufacturer to create a unique handmade mask adorned with Akita dog illustrations.

Akitakensan Co., a distributor whose company name means "made in Akita," came up with the mask design and prepared supplies of cloth, while staff from crafts dealer Sasaki-kogeisha were in charge of making the handcrafted masks using sewing machines. The masks are 100% cotton and combine four pieces of gauze fabric, with cute illustrations of Akita dogs on its front surface. If washed, the masks can be used several dozen times, according to the makers.

Akitakensan President Shinji Oshima told the Mainichi Shimbun, "We wished to help those who are facing trouble due to mask shortages, while also using this opportunity to promote the Akita region."

The masks are being sold at a store directly run by Akitakensan located in Akita Marugoto Market. Adult masks, which are 16.5 centimeters by 10 cm, cost 450 yen apiece, excluding tax. Children's masks, which measure 13 cm by 9 cm, cost 350 yen each, excluding tax. Masks featuring "namahage," a demon-like deity and cultural heritage, are also planned.

The Akita Marugoto Market is located at 2 Oroshimachi, Akita city.

(Japanese original by Hiroshi Takano, Akita Bureau)

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