Hachikō (November 10, 1923 – March 8, 1935) was a Japanese dog of the Akita breed, who is remembered for his remarkable loyalty to his owner which continued for many years after his owner’s death.
In 1924, Hidesaburō Ueno, a professor in the agriculture department at the University of Tokyo, took in Hachikō, a golden brown Akita, as a pet. During his owner’s life, Hachikō greeted him at the end of each day at the nearby Shibuya Station. The pair continued their daily routine until May 1925, when Professor Ueno did not return. The professor had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died, never returning to the train station where Hachikō was waiting. Each day for the next nine years Hachikō awaited Ueno’s return, appearing precisely when the train was due at the station.
Hachikō attracted the attention of other commuters. Many of the people who frequented the Shibuya train station had seen Hachikō and Professor Ueno together each day. Initial reactions from the people, especially from those working at the station, were not necessarily friendly. However, after the first appearance of the article about him on October 4, 1932, people started to bring Hachikō treats and food to nourish him during his wait.
One of the articles, published in Tokyo in 1932, placed the dog in the national spotlight. Hachikō became a national sensation. His faithfulness to his master’s memory impressed the people of Japan as a spirit of family loyalty all should strive to achieve. Teachers and parents used Hachikō’s vigil as an example for children to follow. A well-known Japanese artist rendered a sculpture of the dog, and throughout the country a new awareness of the Akita breed grew.
Eventually, Hachikō’s legendary faithfulness became a national symbol of loyalty, particularly to the person and institution of the Emperor.
Hachikō died on March 8, 1935, and was found on a street in Shibuya. In March 2011, scientists settled the cause of death of Hachikō: the dog had terminal cancer and a filaria infection.
Hachikō’s stuffed and mounted remains are kept at the National Science Museum of Japan in Ueno, Tokyo. His monument is in Aoyama cemetery in Minatoku, Tokyo.
The exact spot where Hachikō waited in the train station is permanently marked with bronze paw-prints and text in Japanese explaining his loyalty.
Each year on April 8, Hachikō’s devotion is honored with a solemn ceremony of remembrance at Tokyo’s Shibuya railroad station. Hundreds of dog lovers often turn out to honor his memory and loyalty.
Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, released in August 2009, is an American movie starring actor Richard Gere, directed by Lasse Hallström, about Hachikō and his relationship with an American professor & his family following the same basic story. The movie was filmed in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, primarily in and around the Woonsocket Depot Square area and also featured Joan Allen and Jason Alexander.
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