With over 535,000 followers [of his website] and 30,000 likes per photo on his Instagram page [and nearly 12,000 likes on Facebook], Maru is one of Japan’s most popular pooches. He documents daily life and trips across Japan, but it’s more than fur-deep. Metropolis met the rising star at one typical hangout, the Yoyogi park dog run.
Tell us a little a bit about yourself.
I was born on October 20, 2007. I’m a Shiba-inu—a breed that is an official national monument of Japan. I’m a bit bigger than the standard Shiba, weighing in at 18 kilos rather than the usual 8-10 kilos. I was bought from a pet shop on Christmas Eve after my then would-be owners spent a week debating over whether to get a dog or not. I was the last one left of my litter and when they came back… well, the rest is history. When I’m not on the road, I live part-time in Shonan and part-time in Tokyo. My hobbies are digging on the beach, going for walks and playing with a toy daikon.
Why the name “Maru?”
I was named that because maru is “circle” in Japanese—and since circles have no corners, they represent smoothness, without interruption. It can also mean purity, happiness and also fat! My owners hoped I would grow up happy and with a cute, round face. I guess they got the last bit right!
What makes your Instagram so appealing?
I just live my life day-to-day, so I don’t really know. I smile a lot and I think people feed on that positive energy. It’s a simple, but profound connection that we all need.
Metropolis also threw a quick bone to Maru’s owner, whose photos bring out the best in him.
Do you have any advice for taking photos of pets or animals?
My biggest piece of advice would be to get down to their level. Try to take your pictures at the animal’s height or at eye level. That way your shot will be more balanced and look more natural. Taking photos from above makes them look cute as they look up at you, but if you want a “real” shot, you’re going to have to crouch down in the dirt!
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