In warm weather, the rolling hills of Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido burst with flowers. In cold weather, they glisten with snow. But come rain or shine, a sentinel stands guard in the island’s major city, Sapporo. Loyal, friendly, and steadfast, this is Ken-kun, the proprietor of the Inu no Yakiimoyasan sweet potato stand. This friendly salesman greets visitors and welcomes them to sample his signature roasted sweet potatoes. But a sign outside the stand reminds visitors that he can’t give you change—because he’s a dog.
The Dog’s Roasted Sweet Potato stand has been around for several years, reliably offering locals in a Sapporo residential district the common street snack. Ken-kun, a Shiba Inu, rocketed to global fame following a viral tweet early in 2019, and the internet was delighted at what a good boy he was. While Ken-kun can’t actually roast the sweet potatoes or handle the money—that lack of opposable thumbs can really hold an entrepreneur back—he does man the stand solo for most of the day. His owner roasts the potatoes and leaves them in a plastic container, then comes around several times a day to count the cash in an honor-system money box and walk Ken-kun. But for the most part, the dog is an independent go-getter.
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