The loyalty of Hachikō, an Akita dog is well documented in the Japanese press and in two film versions – one in Japanese and the other – Hachi, A Dog’s Tale, an American adaptation of his story. In 1924, Hidesaburō Ueno, a professor at the University of Tokyo had adopted a golden brown Akita as a pet and named him Hachikō. The professor commuted to work each day from the nearby Shibuya Station. At the end of each day, Hachikō would leave the house to meet his master at the station. This was their daily routine.
Then one day on the 21 May, 1925, as he had always done, Hachikō went to meet his master. But Ueno did not return. The professor had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died without returning home. But Hachikō did not know that as he continued to wait. And for almost ten years after the death of Ueno, Hachikō returned each day at precisely when the train was due and waited for the return of his master.
Many of the commuters have seen Hachikō and the Professor together each day. But the people working at the station were not pleased with his continued presence. 🙁
But on 4 October, 1932, an article about Hachikō by Hirokichi Saito, one of Ueno’s students appeared in one of the national papers, Asahi Shimbun. Mr. Saito, who wrote the article, was an expert on the Akita breed. He had seen Hachikō at the station and then followed him to the home of Ueno’s former gardener, Kikuzaboro Kobayashi. There he learned about Hachikō’s life.
The story of Hachikō’s faithfulness to his master’s memory impressed the people of Japan as a spirit of family loyalty to which all should strive to achieve. After that article, people started to treat Hachikō differently. They fed him and brought him treats each day he came to wait for his master’s return. Hachikō’s legendary faithfulness had become a national symbol of loyalty.
In April 1934, a well-known Japanese artist rendered a bronze statue in his likeness was erected at Shibuya Station, and Hachikō himself was present at its unveiling. The statue that stands today at Shibuya Station is not of the original as the first statue was recycled for the WWII effort. But after the war, the Society for Recreating the Hachikō Statue commissioned Takeshi Ando, son of the original artist, to make a second statue. A dedication ceremony occurred when the new statue was reinstated in August 1948. It stands at the station entrance named “Hachikō-guchi” – “The Hachikō Entrance/Exit”, and is one of Shibuya Station’s five exits.
Sadly, Hachikō was found dead on a street in Shibuya on March 8, 1935 at the age of 11. Scientists eventually settled the cause of death as terminal cancer and a filaria infection.In mourning for Hachikō are his owner’s wife Yaeko Ueno and station staff.
Hachikō’s fur was preserved. Today, a likeness of him can be found on permanent display at the National Science Museum of Japan in Tokyo.On the 80th anniversary of Hachikō’s passing, a new statue depicting his joy upon seeing his owner was erected at the University of Tokyo, where Ueno was a professor before his death.Today, the 8th March, marks the 82nd anniversary of the day Hachikō crossed the Rainbow Bridge to his waiting master where they were reunited again, nine years later.
You’re a fine example, Hachikō – you reminded hoomans how much they mean to us. If all hoomans can know how much we love them, maybe many more will see us as more than “just a dog.”
May’s comment: During all those years when I used to travel to Tokyo on business trips, I was not aware of Hachikō. Those were my pre-Darcy days. 🙂 I remember vaguely walking past that statue at least once but paid no attention to it. I haven’t been back to Japan for over seven years and I know that when I visit again, I will be visiting this monument of remembrance for Hachikō.
There is a similar story in Scotland called Greyfriars Bobby, who for 14 years guarded his master’s grave.