Zagitova visits hometown of her Akita dog

Russian figure skating star Alina Zagitova has visited the Japanese hometown of her Akita dog, Masaru.

The PyeongChang Olympics singles champion visited Odate City in Akita Prefecture on Sunday to attend a preview of a film jointly produced by Japan and Russia.

The film is based on a real story of a German shepherd named Palma, who was left at an airport in Moscow by mistake and waited for the return of her master in the 1970s.

Akita dogs appear in the movie as the Russian story is similar to one in Japan of a dog of the Akita breed. Hachi waited for his late master at a railway station in Tokyo for years.

Odate is known for breeding and preservation of the Akita dog. Part of the movie was filmed in the city.

Zagitova, who also appears in the movie, was given Masaru three years ago from an Odate group dedicated to the breed's preservation.

She gave a speech at a preview ceremony in which she said she was happy to be able to visit Odate and was looking forward to seeing Masaru's sibling.

The skater later visited a tourist facility in the city and met Masaru's brother, Shodai.

She could only see him through a glass panel due to a coronavirus precaution. But she took photos with Shodai, and asked for his weight to compare it with Masaru's.

The film is titled "Hachi to Palma no Monogatari" in Japanese, which literally means the story of Hachi and Palma. It will be screened in Japan starting on Friday.