One of history’s most beloved and famous dog and human friendships is the one between an Akita named Hachiko and his owner Hidesaburo Ueno. The dog’s story is so revered that his presence is still felt in and around Tokyo, Japan where he lived nearly 100 years ago.
The story still resonates today because it is a timeless example of unwavering love and devotion.
Hachiko was born on a farm in 1923. He was adopted by Professor Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor of agriculture at the University of Tokyo, who was a loving man.
Every day, Ueno and Hachi would walk to the Shibuya train station, where the professor would pet Hachiko goodbye and board the train.
This continued for several years until one day, Ueno did not return from work. He had suffered a brain hemorrhage and passed away. Hachi did not know this, and continued to wait. Hachi never gave up hope that his beloved owner would return on the train.
Every afternoon, when Ueno’s train was due to arrive, Hachi would appear at the train station and look for him.
Hachi’s vigil continued on for many years, 10 to be exact until the morning of March 8, 1935, when Hachiko was found dead near Shibuya Station. He had passed away from natural causes. His body was carried to the station’s baggage room, which had been one of his favorite places and a photo was taken on the solemn occasion.
The photo shows not only Hachiko, but also Ueno’s wife, Yaeko, and staff members of the station. One of the staff members, Yoshizo Osawa, gave the photo to his daughter who recalls that her father loved dogs and told her that Hachi came to the station every day and that they shared their box lunches with him.
Hachikō’s remains were preserved and are now kept at the National Science Museum of Japan in Ueno, Tokyo.
A bronze statue of Hachiko was placed outside of Shibuya Station in memorial to the dog. It was destroyed in World War II, but a new one was erected in the same spot in 1948, and still stands there today. It has become one of the most popular and beloved parks in the neighborhood.
Furthermore, the station entrance near this statue is named “Hachikō-guchi”, meaning “The Hachikō Entrance/Exit”. One of the train lines is also named the Hachiko Line.
Rare photos of the dog are still being discovered.
More recently, a bronze statue of Hachiko reuniting with Ueno, was also unveiled on March 8, 2015 to commemorate the 90th anniversary of Ueno’s death, and the 80th year of Hachiko’s passing. The statue now stands outside of the University of Tokyo’s agriculture department where Ueno was a professor. A popular Hollywood movie – Hachi: A Dog’s Tale – was also made.
Hachiko’s story continues to be remembered and honored as a shining example of unparalleled loyalty, and one that people will continue to aspire to.