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. )
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.
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!