Have you heard of Hachikō? Neither had I until I saw the movie “Hachiko A Dog’s Story.” Outside the Shibuya Station in Tokyo, there is a statue of Hachi. The exit for the station was also named after him. In Japan he is considered a national hero! Why? Well, to know this, you must first understand his story. Hachi was owned by Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor of agriculture at the University of Tokyo. Their bond was unlike any others, and it showed each day. In Japan a statue was erected where tons of people come to take a picture with him. Hollywood also made a movie about him! In Rhode Island you can find a statue of Hachi where the US version took place. But why is his story so iconic? I’m glad you asked! This is the very real and sad story of a dog who loved his human.
Once upon a time there was a dog named Hachikō…
Hidesaburo had longed for a purebred Japanese Akita for the longest time. Upon the recommendation of one of his students, Hidesaburo adopted Hachikō. The two of them were inseperable! Hidesaburo treated Hachi like he was his own son.
As Hachi got older he would see his master off in the morning at the Shibuya Train Station, in central Tokyo. He would also return in the afternoon to pick him back up. It became a tradition to greet each other after Hidesaburo would get off work. Unfortunately, some happy beginnings have an unfortunate ending. On May 21, 1925, Hachi’s owner never returned…
As it turned out, Hidesaburo had suffered from a ‘cerebral hemorrhage and died suddenly and unexpectedly while at work.’ For the rest of his ten-year-old life, Hachi continued to showing up at the Shibuya Train Station every morning and afternoon precisely when the train entered the station. For hours he would sit there and wait patiently for Hidesaburo, scanning the faces of the people in the station.
A statue for a loyal friend
A major Japanese newspaper reporter printed the dog’s story in 1932. The publication led to Hachikō becoming a national celebrity.
People started calling him “Chuken-Hachiko“, which means “Hachiko – the faithful dog“.
The story of how this dog never gave up hope gained a lot of attention. He touched many hearts, becoming a hero of the Japanese people. Because of this they gave him his own statue.
People at the station would give him love and treats, and he soon became everyone’s favorite dog. His story would be told in schools and colleges. When Hachi was 11, his body was found outside the station. He passed away peacefully in the spot where he waited each and every day. A small monument was put up next Hidesaburo’s grave.
Sadness for a loving animal
Residents were full of tears and reverence the day Hachikō died. They placed his body on a straw mat and palanquin, praying over his body before taking him to be autopsied.
Finally, Hachikō would be taxidermied by a local museum. Hachikō’s body can still be seen at the Tokyo Science Museum today. To make this story sweeter, another statue was put up of Hachikō and Mr. Ueno. The professor puts his briefcase on the ground while his happy dog greets him with a jubilant jump. Your story will forever move our hearts Hachi!
Featured Image via screencapture from website We Love Animals