Hachiko: Loyal Dog who waited faithfully for his Deceased Owner for Ten Years

Hachiko: The Loyal Dog Who Waited a Decade for His Owner

The heartwarming tale of Hachiko (Hachikō), the loyal dog who waited faithfully for his deceased owner at Tokyo’s Shibuya train station, has touched the hearts of people worldwide. Hachiko’s unwavering devotion and remarkable story have made him an enduring symbol of loyalty. Let’s delve into the extraordinary journey of Hachiko, the most faithful dog in history.

How Hachikō Came To Live With Hidesaburō Ueno

Photo of the faithful dog Hachiko
Photo of the faithful dog Hachiko

Hachikō, an Akita, was born on November 10, 1923, on a farm in Japan’s Akita Prefecture. In 1924, Professor Hidesaburō Ueno, who taught at Tokyo Imperial University’s agriculture department, welcomed the adorable puppy into his life in the Shibuya neighborhood of Tokyo.

Every day, Professor Ueno and Hachikō followed a routine. They walked together to the Shibuya Station in the morning, where Ueno would catch the train to work. After a day of teaching, Ueno would return to the station at precisely 3 p.m., and Hachikō would eagerly await his arrival, accompanying him on their walk back home.

Hachiko with the Ueno family
Hachikō with the Ueno family

Sadly, tragedy struck in May 1925 when Professor Ueno suffered a fatal brain hemorrhage while teaching. On that fateful day, Hachikō arrived at the station as usual, but his beloved owner never stepped off the train. Despite this sudden loss, Hachikō returned the next day, hoping against hope that Ueno would come back. And so began the incredible tale of Hachikō’s unwavering loyalty.

How The Story Of Hachiko Became A National Sensation

After his master’s passing, Hachikō was reportedly given away. However, he would escape and rush to Shibuya Station daily at 3 p.m., yearning to reunite with Professor Ueno. The dedicated dog’s loyalty soon caught the attention of other commuters at the station.

Initially, the station workers were indifferent towards Hachikō. But his unwavering fidelity eventually won them over. The employees began bringing treats for Hachikō and would even sit beside him to keep him company.

Shibuya Station, Tokyo, Japan (1912–1945)
Shibuya Station, Tokyo, Japan (1912–1945)

Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years, but Hachikō continued his daily pilgrimage to the station. His presence deeply impacted the Shibuya community, and he became an iconic figure. One of Professor Ueno’s former students, Hirokichi Saito, an Akita breed expert, learned of Hachikō’s story and decided to investigate.

Saito traveled to Shibuya and witnessed Hachikō waiting faithfully at the station, just as he had heard. He followed Hachikō to the home of Ueno’s former gardener, Kuzaburo Kobayashi, who shared the touching tale of Hachikō’s loyalty.

Captivated by the dog’s devotion, Saito published numerous articles detailing Hachiko’s story. In 1932, one of his articles was featured in the national daily Asahi Shimbun, spreading Hachikō’s tale across Japan. The dog quickly gained nationwide fame, attracting visitors from all corners of the country who sought to witness his remarkable loyalty.

Hachikō at Shibuya station, c. 1933

Throughout the years, Hachikō’s routine remained steadfast, undeterred by old age or arthritis. For nine years and nine months following his owner’s passing, Hachikō continued to return to the station every day, patiently waiting. Visitors who were moved by Hachikō’s story often joined him, traveling great distances to share a moment of companionship.

The Legacy Of The World’s Most Loyal Dog: Hachiko

On March 8, 1935, Hachikō’s remarkable journey came to an end. At the age of 11, he was found lifeless on the streets of Shibuya. Although the exact cause of his death remained a mystery until 2011, scientists determined that Hachikō likely succumbed to a filaria infection and cancer. Surprisingly, his stomach contained four yakitori skewers, although they were not the cause of his passing.

News of Hachikō’s demise spread nationwide, capturing the hearts of people across Japan. He was cremated, and his ashes were placed beside Professor Ueno’s grave in Aoyama Cemetery in Tokyo, finally reuniting the loyal dog with his master.

Last known photo of Hachikō – pictured with his owner's partner Yaeko Ueno
Last known photo of Hachikō – pictured with his owner’s partner Yaeko Ueno

While Hachikō’s physical presence may have departed, his legacy endures. His fur was preserved, stuffed, and is now exhibited at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Ueno, Tokyo.

Donations poured in to erect a bronze statue of Hachikō at the exact spot where he had waited faithfully for his master. Unfortunately, the statue was melted down during World War II for ammunition. However, in 1948, a new statue was erected at Shibuya Station, where it stands proudly to this day.

Millions of commuters pass through the station daily, reminded of Hachiko’s unwavering loyalty. The station entrance near the statue is aptly named Hachikō-guchi, meaning the Hachikō entrance and exit.

Hachikō's grave beside Professor Ueno's grave in Aoyama Cemetery, Minato, Tokyo
Hachikō’s grave beside Professor Ueno’s grave in Aoyama Cemetery, Minato, Tokyo | Image Source: Hakaishi, CC BY-SA 1.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/1.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Another statue of Hachikō can be found in Odate, his original hometown. Erected in 2004, it stands in front of the Akita Dog Museum. Additionally, in 2015, the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Tokyo unveiled a brass statue on the 80th anniversary of Hachikō’s death.

In 2016, Hachikō’s story took yet another poignant turn. When Professor Ueno’s partner, Yaeko Sakano, passed away in 1961, her request to be buried beside him was initially rejected. However, in 2013, University of Tokyo professor Sho Shiozawa discovered Sakano’s request and fulfilled her wish. Her ashes were interred beside Ueno and Hachikō, with her name inscribed on the side of the tombstone.

Hachiko’s Story In Pop Culture

Hachikō’s extraordinary tale has made its way into popular culture, resonating with audiences worldwide. In 1987, the Japanese blockbuster film “Hachiko Monogatari,” directed by Seijirō Kōyama, brought the story to the big screen, further cementing its significance.

The tale found international recognition through “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale,” a 2009 American movie starring Richard Gere and directed by Lasse Hallström. Although loosely based on Hachikō’s story, this adaptation is set in Rhode Island, focusing on the relationship between Professor Parker Wilson (Gere) and a lost puppy transported from Japan to the United States. The central theme of unwavering loyalty remains a poignant tribute to Hachikō.

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