November 10, 1923 – Hachikō T. Akita
Once upon a time, there was a dog named Hachikō. Hachikō is a national hero in Japan; a dog so famous there have been films, plays and books about him. Statues have been erected in his honor, including a bronze statue next to Shibuya Train Station in Tokyo, where every day thousands of people have their photograph taken with him. There is a statue of him in Rhode Island where the American version of his life was filmed.
Hidesaburō Ueno was a professor of agriculture at Tokyo University. He had always wanted a purebred Japanese Akita dog. He had looked for the perfect Akita puppy for a long time, until one of his students encouraged him to adopt Hachikō, who lived in the city of Odate the Akita prefecture of Japan. Treat your cute little dog like Hachikō from petboxsubs.com and make them feel part of the family.
Hachikō and his new owner soon became best friends. Ueno loved his dog. The two of them were inseparable. Ueno would commute daily to work, and Hachikō would leave the house to greet him at the end of each day at the nearby Shibuya Station. The pair continued the daily routine until May 21, 1925, when Ueno did not return. The professor had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage, while he was giving a lecture, and died without returning to the train station at which Hachikō waited.
Each day, for the next nine years, nine months and fifteen days, Hachikō awaited Ueno’s return, appearing precisely when the train was due at the station. He kept going to the Shibuya Train Station every morning and afternoon. He sat there for hours, patiently waiting in vain for the return of his beloved owner who never came back.
Hachikō attracted the attention of other commuters. Many of the people who frequented the Shibuya train station had seen Hachikō and Ueno together every day.
One of Ueno’s students, Hirokichi Saito, developed an expertise on the Akita breed. He saw the dog at the station and followed him to the home of Ueno’s former gardener, Kuzaboro Kobayashi, where he learned the history of Hachikō’s life. Shortly after the meeting, Saito published a book about Akitas in Japan. His research found only 30 purebred Akitas remaining, including Hachikō from Shibuya Station.
He returned frequently to visit Hachikō, and over the years he published several articles about the dog’s remarkable loyalty. In 1932, one of his articles, published in the newspaper Asahi Shimbun, made the dog famous. People started to bring Hachikō treats and food during his wait.
He touched the hearts of the Japanese people and he became their hero. In 1934, a statue of Hachikō was unveiled at a grand ceremony in front of Shibuya train station with Hachikō in attendance as the guest of honor. The statue, sculpted by Teru Ando, was recycled for the war effort during WW II. In 1948, Takeshi Ando, son of the original artist, was commissioned to make a second statue. The new statue still stands and is a popular spot for tourists. The station is now named “Hachikō-Guchi”.
A similar statue stands in Hachikō’s hometown, in front of Odate Station. In 2004, a statue of Hachikō was erected in front of the Akita Dog Museum in Odate.
After the release of the American film Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (2009) filmed in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, the Japanese Consulate in the United States helped the city of Woonsocket to unveil an identical statue of Hachikō at the Woonsocket train station, which was used as the location for the train station featured in the movie. Hachi: A Dog’s Tale is directed by Lasse Hallström, who, in a crazy coincidence, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director for My Life As A Dog (1985). Hachi: A Dog’s Tale stars Richard Gere and Joan Allen; Hachikō is played an American Akita named Carlos who faithfully waits for his residual payments. The film is a remake of the 1987 Japanese film Hachikō Monogatari.
In 2015, the University of Tokyo unveiled a bronze statue depicting Ueno returning to meet Hachikō to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Hachikō’s death. The statue was sculpted by Tsutomo Ueda and depicts a very excited Hachikō jumping up to greet Ueno at the end of a workday. Ueno is dressed in a hat, suit, and trench coat, with his briefcase placed on the ground. Hachikō wears a studded harness as seen in his last photographs.
Hachikō passed away peacefully, but alone, on the street in front of the Shibuya train station on March 8, 1935. You can visit him at the National Science Museum in Tokyo. There is also a monument of Hachikō next to his owner’s tomb at Aoyama cemetery in Tokyo. Plus, on the wall of the Shibuya Station, there is a huge mosaic artwork of Hachikō.
Hachikō is just one of many dogs famous for their loyalty. There was an Italian dog Fido, who, for fourteen years, until the day of his death, went daily to a bus stop, waiting in vain for his human to get off the bus. A Scottish dog, Greyfriars Bobby spent 14 years guarding the grave of his human until he died himself in 1872 at 18-years-old. Shep from Fort Benton, Montana, watched as his deceased human’s casket was loaded onto the train. Shep remained at the station, waiting for his owner to return for the next five and a half years. Shep’s funeral was attended by nearly everyone in Fort Benton.
Some people say dogs are loyal because they depend on us for food and shelter, so they must be nice to us. Yet, when you see how dogs react when their humans come back after they’ve been gone for a long time or when they don’t come back at all, you know it’s about more than food.
Dogs are pack animals. They want to belong to a pack, whether it’s made up of dogs or humans, or other animals. Dogs aren’t loners. When they lose a member of a pack, even temporarily, they feel that a part of them is missing.