Hachiko, Japan's most famous dog

In Tokyo’s Shibuya ward (“Bitter Valley” in English), specifically in the area called Dogenzaka, right by the busiest intersection on the planet where every three minutes hundreds of people cross the street, stands a statue of the most famous dog in Japan, but virtually unknown in other parts of the world. For many Tokyoites, today this statue serves as a meeting point. It’s well known that the Japanese love their pets, but what did this dog named Hachiko do to get his own statue right here?

 

The true story of Hachiko

Let’s roll back 86 years. Hachiko ((ハチ公), white male dog of Akita breed, was born in 1923 on a farm near the city of Odate in Akita prefecture on the north of Honshu. Nearly a year later he was brought to Tokyo by his owner, Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor of agriculture at the University of Tokyo

Every morning when Ueno went to work, Hachiko (also called Hachi) saw him off at the front door and waited for him in late afternoon on the same spot at the nearby Shibuya Station. This has become their daily routine. The tragedy occured in May of 1925 when Hachiko was eighteen months old. That day the professor didn’t arrive by train as usual. At the university he suffered a stroke. He died and never came back to the station where his friend was waiting for him.

After Ueno’s death, Hachiko was given away to new owners but he escaped every time, returning to his old home where he used to live with his master. When Hachiko eventually realized that the professor didn’t live there anymore, he went back to the station. After that day, every time exactly at 4 o’clock when the train arrived, Hachiko came to wait in hopes of seeing his master.

This continued day after day, month after month, for the next 10 years. Many people who passed through the station every day, even brought food for Hachiko as he waited. He drew attention of one of former Ueno’s students who followed the dog home and learned about his story from the new owners. The student was fascinated with the story and afterwards visited Hachiko many times as he began to write articles about him and the Akita breed.

In 1933, after one of his articles was published in Asahi Shinbun, Japan’s biggest newspaper, the dog became a national sensation. Teachers and parents around the country used Hachiko’s loyalty as an example for children to follow. Eventually, Hachiko became national symbol of loyalty. His bronze statue was erected in front of the station and Hachiko himself was present at the opening ceremony. Unfortunately, during World War II the statue was melted down for war efforts. In 1948, Takeshi Ando, son of the original artist, was commissioned to create the second statue.

Hachiko was found dead on March 8, 1935 on a street in Shibuya. He died because of heart infection, and 3 or 4 yakitori sticks were found in his stomach (yakitori is fried chicken meat on a stick). Hachiko’s stuffed and mounted remains can be seen in the National Science Museum in Ueno Park in Tokyo. Today, the dog’s statue still stands in front of the Shibuya Station, waiting and hoping that his master will come home.

 

This morning I went down to Shibuya to take some photos of the statue and the surroundings:


The statue of Hachiko with his trademark folded ear.

 


One of Shibuya Station’s 5 entrances is named after Hachiko.

 


The location of the statue. Taken from the window of the nearby Starbucks. The Shibuya Station is seen in the background.

 


The meeting point in front of the station. The statue is right behind that tree!

 


The outside wall of the station is decorated with images of Hachiko.

 

Films about Hachiko

If you’re interested, there’s a Japanese movie about Hachiko released in 1987 under the title Hachiko Monogatari. Looks like the story is about to become more famous internationally as just last month the American version came out in theaters, starring Richard Gere in main role. This movie is titled Hachi and was premiered in Japan on August 8th. Have a look at the Japanese trailer:

  • http://througheyesfromafar.blogspot.com/ The Envoy

    Dogs, ever governed by their pack mentality, remains one of the most loyal animals around, hence “man’s best friend”.

  • Rok

    The Envoy, I would certainly agree with that…

  • suzi

    I happened watched the version Hachiko Monotagari; it really broke my heart, I cried and became angry wondering why if any of Mr. Ueno’s student or relatives know anything about Hachiko was given away by his wife (?) children if any (?); why they didn’t take care of him; this film hurt me too much about his life after his Owner passed away. The story didn’t say much about Ueno private life; I don’t understand the languages, I wish I could. I hope it’s not too late (2010) for me I any generous and kindly give me more information about this story. Thanks

  • suzi

    Sorry, I typed some errors in previous comment. I must confess that I like the Japanese film, after I watched the remake American film. I started crying from Version 6/11 until 11/11 (ending). It hurts me too much when watching Hachiko came back to the Owner’s old house (I guessed) and rocks was thrown by the new homeowner. I admired all Japanese stars. I will visit the Cemetary where the Professor and a post was erected for Hachi. Thanks

  • http://www.7r.ro Jhonny

    Sad story, I heard about it a few years ago from a article on the web …Romania Knows

  • Sandals

    Hachi’s story is so compelling and I cried for hours over it. I’m thrilled that Hachi has a bronze statue in Japan in front of the staion to honor him and also that his remains were stuffed for all to see in the museum. My only sadness is wishing he had been taken care of by a friend or family member to make sure he ate properly, had a warm place to sleep at night, and medical care. Heck, “I” would have given him limo service to/from the train station every day!!

  • pat

    i have a japanese akita he is called nike and he is 10 years old. I heard about hachiko and realised fate brought me and nike together.when igot him i was told akitas are a one person dog and he is definately my dog. he is stuborn ignorant and extremely strong. I fear his age I dont want to lose him.ihave seen the film with Richard Gere and i cried. The trainers of the akitas in the film said akitas are hard to train (they are not kidding) i would love to see hachiko’s remains and statue. Perhaps one day if i am lucky

  • melissa

    what a sad story of poor hachicko still waiting for his master to come back on one of this future but is not nessesary because hachicko is allready happyli ever after with master in heaven he really had a certant chance to die because standing still could make you’re heart stop working I really sad of this story but hachicko is happy in heaven with his master even Thoe his statue is still waiting for his master to come I am really happy that hachicko is in heaven too with his master,poor hachicko he had to wait for his master to come back even that he didnt know he was coming back because he was was dead but he was waiting for this long for his master to come now he found him in heaven I really want to start screaming and crying.

  • Wen

    i hope the statue survives the horrible 8.9 magnitude earthquake…

  • Noora

    Sad..tragic..but a very beautiful story of a very faithful pet/companion/son…..Its just heart breaking and I have watched both the english & japanese version…its just bring me to tears on every beginning & ending. Its more emotional in the original version and Hachi was crying out for his master…and I just couldnt helping crying out for him at the same time….its just sad, beyond words. Have been crying my heart out for 3 days now…just couldnt not forget that movie…it kept on playing in my mind thus breaking my heart, bringing tears to my eyes everytime it happens.
    I must say, this movie is one of the most emotional movie that have affected me after titanic…
    HACHIKO…r i p…..may god always bless your pure soul……

  • http://pandacars.multiply.com Candice Tiara

    the real Hachi was well taken care of (according to some accounts).. well, it’s a movie so they tend to exaggerate it. at first, the movie really made me cry and I can’t stop feeling depressed, so I tried researching about the real Hachi just to make me feel less bad about the wonderful dog.

    And I am just relieved that it was actually just the dog’s routine to go there everyday.. but really, he was already living there (at the store room.. the station manager gave him a room since he’s already becoming famous). and some people commented that it could be he was as well staying there because of the food and treats he gets. we don’t know really, he’s a dog.

    but yeah, I enjoyed the film about loyalty.

  • http://BAGUMBAYANQUEZONCITY JAY HACHIKO

    i belive hachiko he survivein ten years i love him story hi so loyal friend that story is so faithful pet hachiko HIS amo is dead but he still waiting i belive for him I.N.C:D GOD BLESS YOURE SOUL IGLESIA NI CRISTO I LOVE HIM FAITHFUL STORY

  • Philib

    I just happen to catch the american version on netflix a month a go and cannot get this story out of my mind.  I am a dog lover and to see the sadness in the eyes of this beautiful creature.  I was heart broken.  This will sure stay with me for a very long time

  • Nite

    I was just fascinated by this story. Would have been happy if there was more information about him during the nine years that Hachiko waited.

  • http://www.facebook.com/evillaruz1 Editha Villaruz

    ITS SO HEARFELT AND TEARFUL MOVIE……I REALLY LOVE TO WATCH IT….IT LEAVES A MEMORY AND TOUCHES UR HEART….

    • hachiko

      true editha villaruz

  • Kkohatsu

    Shibuya, based on 2 Kanjis: SHIBU-YA

    Shibu : or Shibui means (1) tasteful (clothing); cool; an aura of refined masculinity (2) astringent; sullen; bitter (taste); raspy (voice) (3) grim; quiet (4) sober; stingy
    Ya: Valley
    Bitter Valley is valid but I think the Japanese would prefer  Tasteful/Cool Valley.

  • ioprofessore@gmail.com

    You are so full of it.  The true story?  What is your source and where is the article?  I never heard of a commuter coming back at 4.  He must have been working short hours.

  • Jack Highland

    Dog statue original Japanese
    Damper movie of red dog movie origins

  • Nishes Srivastav

    this story make me cry tooooooooo much.

  • hachiko

    This is the beautifule dogs story i had ever seen its so sad at the end i cry every time i think about hachikoi have american akita named lily

  • lily

    hachiko was the most beautifule and the most famouse dog in world i have akita but not like hachiko japanese i have american and her name is lily do you see the photo beside the wroting thats her and i was crying when i heard about hachi

  • hachiko goodbye

    hachiko think about it and cry how much as you want

  • Fish

    Just watched this movie and it is the saddest movie I ever saw but I loved it, so amazing that a dog would do that !!!

  • jaswinder9

    I just watched this movie and really surprise to know that it is real story. He is really faithful dog to his master.

  • Rajeev

    ……… fully emotional….. it made me cry

  • DAcoycoy

    really good