In a world that often seems to favor fleeting relationships and disposable connections, there are stories that stand the test of time, touching the hearts of generations. One such story is that of Hachiko, a remarkable Akita dog from Japan, whose unwavering loyalty continues to inspire millions. This year celebrates the 100th anniversary of Hachiko’s birth, a milestone that serves as a reminder of the enduring bond between humans and their furry companions.
1. A tale of loyalty
Hachiko’s story began on November 10th, 1923, when he was born in the city of Odate, Japan. He was adopted by Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor at Tokyo Imperial University. The bond between Hachiko and his owner grew strong in the 16 months they spent together. When Ueno took the train to work, Hachiko’s would accompany the professor to the station. Their daily routine included Ueno’s departure in the morning and Hachiko’s loyal wait for his return at the Shibuya train station in the evening.
However, tragedy struck in 1925 when Ueno unexpectedly passed away of a cerebral hemorrhage while lecturing his class, never returning to the train station where his loyal four-legged friend awaited.
“While people were attending the wake, Hachi smelled Dr Ueno from the house and went inside the living room. He crawled under the coffin and refused to move,” wrote Prof Mayumi Itoh, Hachiko’s biographer.
After spending some months outside Shibuya, with different families, Hachiko went back to his master’s neighbourhood when Professor Ueno’s gardener, Kikusaburo Kobayashi, adopted him in the summer of 1925. Hachiko then returned to the routine he knew.
Hachiko continued to wait at the station every day, unaware of his owner’s demise. For almost a decade, the loyal dog faithfully returned to the same spot, hoping to catch a glimpse of his beloved human friend.
In the evening, Hachi stood on four legs at the ticket gate and looked at each passenger as if he were looking for someone.Professor Mayumi Itoh, Hachiko’s biographer
In the beginning, Hachiko was not immediately recognized or appreciated by everyone. Some people initially saw him as an inconvenience. At the station, kids would bully him and people would shoo him away. However, Hachiko’s fortunes took a turn when the Japanese daily newspaper Tokyo Asahi Shimbun featured his remarkable story on october 1932.
2. Enduring legacy of devotion
Hachiko’s unwavering devotion captured the attention of the public and became a symbol of loyalty in Japanese culture. People from all walks of life were moved by the dog’s dedication and started referring to him as “Chuken Hachiko” or “faithful dog Hachiko.” The story spread far and wide, reaching international audiences who were equally captivated by Hachiko’s tale.
In 1934, a bronze statue was erected in Hachiko’s honor near the Shibuya train station, forever immortalizing the loyal dog. The statue became a popular meeting point for locals and a symbol of enduring loyalty. Over the years, it has become an iconic landmark, attracting visitors from around the globe.
On March 8, 1935, a decade after his master’s death, Hachiko passed away at 11 years old. Following his funeral, thousands visited the statue at Shibuya Station. Every April 8th, “the faithful dog” is celebrated and honored with a memorial service held outside the station.
Japanese schoolchildren are taught the story of the loyal dog, Chuken Hachiko. In Japanese culture, it holds a special place as a timeless symbol of unwavering loyalty and fidelity. Revered as the epitome of the “ideal Japanese citizen”, Hachiko’s tale embodies a profound sense of devotion that transcends rationality. According to Professor Christine Yano from the University of Hawaii, Hachiko embodies the qualities of a true paragon: steadfast loyalty, unwavering reliability, obedience to a master, and an innate understanding of their role within the greater context of the world.
Hachiko’s tale has inspired numerous books, movies, and adaptations, further spreading his message of devotion and love. His story has become a symbol of resilience and resolute commitment.