Celebrating loyalty: Hachiko, the dog that waited for its dead master for decades, turns 100
In the bustling city of Tokyo, a heartwarming story unfolded last century—a story that would capture the hearts of people worldwide. Hachiko, a cream white Akita Inu, became an emblem of unwavering loyalty as he faithfully waited for his deceased master at a train station for years. The world is now marking the canine's birth centenary.
Hachiko's remarkable story has left an indelible mark on literature, film, and popular culture.
The Chinese adaptation of his tale, following the Japanese version in 1987 and the Richard Gere-starring film in 2009, all have become box office hits, reigniting the fascination with Hachiko's profound bond with his human, reported the BBC.
While stories of devoted dogs exist, none have resonated globally quite like Hachiko. His tale transcends borders and reminds us of the extraordinary connections that can exist between humans and animals.
Statue that symbolises devotion
Standing tall outside Tokyo's Shibuya Station since 1948, a bronze statue immortalises Hachiko's unwavering vigil.
Originally erected in 1934, the statue was temporarily repurposed during World War Two.
Today, Japanese schoolchildren learn of Chuken Hachiko, the loyal dog, as an exemplar of unwavering dedication.
Professor Christine Yano of the University of Hawaii, who spoke to the BBC, describes Hachiko as the embodiment of the "ideal Japanese citizen." His loyalty, reliability, obedience, and profound understanding transcend rationality, showcasing the true essence of devotion.
Hachiko was born in November 1923 in the city of Odate, nestled in the Akita prefecture—the ancestral home of Akitas. A majestic breed, Akitas have long captivated people with their calm demeanour, sincerity, intelligence, and bravery. They were once trained to hunt formidable animals like wild boars and elk.
In 1924, Hidesaburo Ueno, a renowned agricultural professor and ardent dog lover, got Hachiko as a puppy. The professor and his loyal companion shared a profound bond, with Hachiko accompanying Ueno to Shibuya Station, where he commuted daily.
On a fateful day in May 1925, tragedy struck when Professor Ueno passed away suddenly from a cerebral hemorrhage. Hachiko, having spent only 16 months by his side, was left heartbroken and bereft.
In the months following Ueno's passing, Hachiko journeyed between different families but ultimately found his way back to the Shibuya area. Determined and unwavering, he resumed his daily pilgrimage to the station, eagerly awaiting the return of his beloved master.
Initially seen as a nuisance by station employees, Hachiko's presence soon caught the attention of the public. In October 1932, a feature in the Tokyo Asahi Shimbun newspaper brought his story to the forefront, catapulting him to national fame. Visitors from far and wide flocked to the station, offering food and support.
On March 8, 1935, Hachiko breathed his last breath, leaving behind a legacy of loyalty.