Hachiko

Do you know about Hachiko, Japan’s most famous dog? He was so devoted to his master, he waited for him for ten years. What follows is one of the most beloved stories in Japan. Amazingly, it’s all true. Read on, my friends, and let’s learn all about…

The word’s most loyal dog

In 1924, a Professor Ueno bought a small Akita dog and named him Hachiko (hach-ko).

Professor Ueno worked at the University of Tokyo, so everyday he would take the train from Shibuya to work. Hachiko would accompany him to the station and see him off. Hachiko would then return to the station in the evening to wait for his master to arrive.

This repeated every day for a year.

Then one day the professor didn’t return. Unbeknownst to Hachiko, Professor Ueno had suffered a massive stroke at school that day and had died instantly.

Loyal Hachiko returned every evening to wait for his master to return. This went on every day for ten years until Hachiko himself died.

The beginning of a legend

During Hachiko’s ten year wait, his legend started growing. The station staff recognized him as the Professor’s dog. They fed him and took care of him.

At some point, one of Professor Ueno’s former students learned about Hachiko and published several articles about him and his story. This propelled Hachiko into the national spotlight and made him something of a local sensation. People were impressed with his faithfulness and loyalty.

The hachiko statue

Hachiko and his story were so loved that after he died, Tokyo residents voted to build a statue of him. It was unfortunately melted down to make weapons during the war, but it was rebuilt afterward.

To this day it remains at the entrance to Shibuya station. It’s a well known landmark and if you tell someone “let’s meet at Hachiko” they will instantly understand where to meet. (But good luck finding anyone. So many people gather at the Hachiko entrance that trying to find someone there is a little like trying to find a needle in a haystack. )

On a slightly disturbing note—to me anyways—he was stuffed and his remains are kept on display at the National Science Musieum in Ueno, Tokyo.

Final Words

This story is very beloved in Japan and is often used to teach children loyalty. At least two movies that I know of have been made about this story, one Japanese and the other a Hollywood remake, and numerous books have been written about it.

Update: 2015-02-12: New Haichiko Statue

Two days ago a new statue was built, this one showing Hachiko as he’s rarely been depicted before, bursting with joy upon seeing his owner.

hs-2

This year marks the 90th anniversary of Ueno’s death, and also the 80th of Hackiho’s passing. In memoriam, the University of Tokyo’s agriculture department has erected a bronze statue of man and dog on its campus, together at last.

Together at last!

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33 Responses to Hachiko

  1. Tom W Sunday, 31 May 2009 at 2:28 pm #

    Interesting post. Any dog I’ve ever had is always trying to run away and Hachiko hangs out for 10 years waiting for his master to return? Not that’s loyalty! UT

  2. Kimber Monday, 1 June 2009 at 12:06 am #

    I think you may have mentioned this before. I see how it is a story of loyalty but I find it depressing. Poor Hachiko.

    This also reminds me of a metro station in Moscow (Revolutionary Square Station) that has a statue of a dog that is supposedly good luck. You have to touch his nose, though!

  3. Leslea Newman Monday, 1 June 2009 at 12:39 am #

    I, too love the story of Hachiko, and in fact, was inspired to write a novel based on his life. For anyone who might be interested in learning more about Chuken Hachiko (the faithful Hachiko), my book is called HACHIKO WAITS. I found Hachiko’s loyalty very moving, and I hope my book does justice to his devotion.

    • Anna Friday, 26 March 2010 at 4:31 pm #

      Leslea – ive just ordered your book – cannot wait to receive it – thank you so much for doing that – your fantastic x

  4. Leslea Newman Monday, 1 June 2009 at 9:39 am #

    I, too love the story of Hachiko, and in fact, was inspired to write a novel based on his life. For anyone who might be interested in learning more about Chuken Hachiko (the faithful Hachiko), my book is called HACHIKO WAITS. I found Hachiko’s loyalty very moving, and I hope my book does justice to his devotion.

  5. rorschach23 Friday, 5 June 2009 at 12:50 am #

    On this topic, mentalfloss.com has a nice post about 6 loyal dogs like Hackiko that’s worth a quick read. The URL is: http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/18238

    • JapanDave Wednesday, 3 March 2010 at 2:19 am #

      Thanks, Neil! Interesting stuff. Amazing the bonds some dogs form.

  6. rorschach23 Friday, 5 June 2009 at 9:50 am #

    On this topic, mentalfloss.com has a nice post about 6 loyal dogs like Hackiko that’s worth a quick read. The URL is: http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/18238

    • JapanDave Wednesday, 3 March 2010 at 11:19 am #

      Thanks, Neil! Interesting stuff. Amazing the bonds some dogs form.

  7. ZenLen Thursday, 16 July 2009 at 2:42 am #

    The present position of Hachiko isn’t the original. Since the station was expanded, they had the move him. This came from a 72-year old that grew up there. Oh, and good luck finding someone there; his enormous popularity attracts large crowds…”I’ll meet you in the haystack!” (><)

    • Anna Friday, 26 March 2010 at 4:27 pm #

      Hi. Interesting you say that the statue is not in its original place. I have read somewhere today when doing some research (after watching the Hollywood movie) that the original statue was melted down something to do with the WW2. Locals were insistant that a memorial be put back – hence a new statue was erected, which could be why it is not in its original place. Has anyone else read this? Ive looked at so many websites today, i am trying to find the artical again x

  8. ZenLen Thursday, 16 July 2009 at 11:42 am #

    The present position of Hachiko isn’t the original. Since the station was expanded, they had the move him. This came from a 72-year old that grew up there. Oh, and good luck finding someone there; his enormous popularity attracts large crowds…”I’ll meet you in the haystack!” (><)

    • JapanDave Wednesday, 3 March 2010 at 11:21 am #

      Did they move him when the statue was remade or afterwards?

      Re: haystack – No kidding! But at least it gives you an idea of where to meet, I suppose.

  9. marija Thursday, 11 February 2010 at 8:45 pm #

    i was so sad after this story…..i love animals

    • JapanDave Tuesday, 16 February 2010 at 1:24 pm #

      I agree it is a sad story, but an amazing one. An amazing dog.

  10. JapanDave Tuesday, 16 February 2010 at 4:24 am #

    I agree it is a sad story, but an amazing one. An amazing dog.

  11. Angie Friday, 26 February 2010 at 2:56 pm #

    I already knew the story and I loved it, so a couple of fdays ago my dad came and brought us the movie Hachiko; a dog’s story. I loved it and cried the entire evening the akita in the movie is red instead of white, but they sticked to the original story. The only changes are the location of the story, the master of Hachi isn’t Japanese and Hachi is red instead of white. I also have an Akita and the akita in the movie really has an Akit personality so it’s not somekind of robot dog

    • JapanDave Wednesday, 3 March 2010 at 2:17 am #

      I’ll have to watch the movie. Since writing this post, I’ve discovered it is a remake of a Japanese movie made in the early 90s (I think). So if you enjoyed the Hollywood one, you may want to track down the original.

  12. Angie Friday, 26 February 2010 at 11:56 pm #

    I already knew the story and I loved it, so a couple of fdays ago my dad came and brought us the movie Hachiko; a dog’s story. I loved it and cried the entire evening the akita in the movie is red instead of white, but they sticked to the original story. The only changes are the location of the story, the master of Hachi isn’t Japanese and Hachi is red instead of white. I also have an Akita and the akita in the movie really has an Akit personality so it’s not somekind of robot dog

    • JapanDave Wednesday, 3 March 2010 at 11:17 am #

      I’ll have to watch the movie. Since writing this post, I’ve discovered it is a remake of a Japanese movie made in the early 90s (I think). So if you enjoyed the Hollywood one, you may want to track down the original.

  13. corrie greenleaf Saturday, 13 March 2010 at 2:30 am #

    i think this dog is going to be in are hearts forever and i think its awesome that so mine people like my self is moved by this dogs story…. it is a heartbreaking story but a good one to tell….

  14. Anna Saturday, 27 March 2010 at 1:22 am #

    Hi. I watched the Richard Gere movie last night and I must say, ive never cried so much in all my life – what a truely emotional film. Ive spent all tying to find articals and information on the famous Hachiko fom Japan and i am even contemplating on going to Japan just to see the statue!!! Do you know how far away the Statue is from the museum? Someone mentioned in the remaks that there was another film ot based on this true story – please could you tell me where i could find it and what it is called? Is it in english? thank you x

  15. Rafael Lopes Thursday, 17 June 2010 at 12:09 pm #

    Hahahah, how cute! I loved this movie!

  16. Rafael Lopes Thursday, 17 June 2010 at 9:09 pm #

    Hahahah, how cute! I loved this movie!

  17. Alina Saturday, 19 June 2010 at 9:30 am #

    Actually the way Japanese saw Hachiko in the past and how he is regarded now has changed quite a bit. While most still find the story still cute, in Japanese if someone tells you that you are a kind of Hachiko it means you are quite naive or simple minded. Even so, the story, sad and true, is a very nice lesson for humans.

  18. JapanDave Sunday, 20 June 2010 at 2:07 am #

    That’s interesting! I’ve never heard that before, but then again I’ve only talked to older Japanese about the story. Maybe it is a generational thing, in that case.

  19. marc Wednesday, 2 March 2011 at 12:14 pm #

    Japan is really great,,,they are faithfull and loyal….i love japan..

  20. Charm Sunday, 5 June 2011 at 6:25 am #

    I just watched Hachiko a few days ago but it is really a wonderful story. It made me cry. Hachi deserved to be remembered forever!

  21. Josie Tuesday, 15 May 2012 at 10:40 am #

    I watched the movie with my grandson and we were both crying.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  3. Meetup in Shibuya | Julianne In Japan - Friday, 4 October 2013

    […] truth. If you’re interested in seeing the full story or what the statue actually looks like, THIS is the page I looked […]

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