You may have seen the film “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale”, the touching tale of a dog that loyally waited every day at a train station for his master. However, you might not be familiar with the real Hachiko who inspired the film.
The real Hachi, also called Hachiko, was an Akita who lived in Japan in the 1920s. He belonged to Professor Hidesaburo Ueno, who worked in the agricultural department of the University of Tokyo. Every day, Hachiko and his master walked to Shibuya train station, where Professor Ueno left for work, and every day, Hachiko was there to meet the Professor as he returned from work in the afternoon.
This continued until Hachi was two years old. On 21st May 1925, Hachi walked with his master to the train station and watched him leave. In the afternoon, faithful Hachi walked to the station as usual and sat by the exit of Shibuya train station, and waited for his master . . . and waited . . . and waited . . .
But Hachi waited in vain, as Professor Ueno never returned. He had suffered a cerebral haemorrhage and died at work. The Professor’s relatives took Hachiko in and looked after him. Despite his new home, Hachiko’s loyalty to his old master never wavered. Every day for the next nine years, loyal Hachiko returned every day to the station to wait for his master. People at the station began to provide food and drink to Hachiko as he waited.
The faithful dog’s vigil attracted the attention of commuters at Shibuya station and even the local and national newspapers. People were impressed by the dog’s loyalty, and parents and teachers used him to teach their children about familial fidelity and devotion. Hachiko’s fidelity made him a national symbol of loyalty.
In 1935, Hachi was found dead on the streets of Shibuya. His cremated remains were buried next to the grave of his beloved master, Professor Ueno, in Aoyama cemetery, Minato, Tokyo.
Hachi’s vigil has been immortalised in many ways, but perhaps the most famous memorial to the loyal dog is the statue outside Shibuya train station. In 1934 a bronze statue of Hachi was placed outside the station, with Hachi himself present at its unveiling. Although the original was melted during the Second World War, it was replaced in 1948. The exact spot where Hachiko waited is marked with bronze paw prints and an inscription in Japanese. Hachi is commemorated every 8th April, with many animal lovers turning up for the solemn ceremony at Shibuya train station.