Right outside the Shibuya Station in Tokyo, there is a statue of a dog. In fact, even the exit is named after him. Why? Well for that you need to hear the story of the most loyal dog in history – Hachiko. It all unfolded right there at the station.
Hachi, a golden-brown Akita was born on 10th November, 1923. He was only a pup when he was adopted by Professor Hidesaburō Ueno, who taught Agricultural Science at Tokyo University.
Hidesaburō loved Hachi immensely and cared for him like a son. The bond between the two would eventually become the stuff of legends.
Hidesaburō would walk to the station from his farm in Shibuya and board the train for work. Hachi would accompany him to the station and bid goodbye to his master everyday.
They shared such a beautiful bond that Hachi would then also return to the station late in the afternoon when it was time for Hidesaburō to come back home, ready to greet his master.
This was their routine. Must have been a wonderful feeling for Hidesaburō to see his loyal friend waiting eagerly for him everyday.
But life had different plans for the two friends.
When Hachi was around two years old, he went to drop Hidesaburō off in the morning. In the afternoon though, Hidesaburō did not return. Hachi kept waiting at the station.
News arrived that Hidesaburō had collapsed during a lecture due to Cerebral Hemorrhage, which led to his sudden demise.
Of course, it was impossible for Hachi to realise this. And what followed was one of the most inspirational stories known to man. They say that a dog is a man’s best friend and good old Hachi was living proof of that.
His loyalty knew no bounds. Such was his love for Hidesaburō that Hachi would wait at the station everyday exactly when the train was due to arrive, hoping that his friend would step out of it.
He did this, everyday, for 9 years!
Hachi had moved in with a gardener, who had once worked for the Ueno family. It was one of Hidesaburō’s student, who was doing some research on the Akita breed, and spotted Hachi at the station. He learnt of his story and finally published articles about his heartwarming tale.
Soon, the world knew him as the dog who never gave up. People at the station would give him treats and love. He became everyone’s favourite.
His story was told in schools and colleges. He was popularly known as Chūken Hachikō (faithful dog Hachiko). In 1934, a bronze statue was erected right outside the station and the
man dog of the moment was present for the unveiling.
A year later, Hachi’s body was found outside the station. He is said to have passed away peacefully, aged 11.
A small monument was erected in his name right next to Hidesaburō’s grave.
Apart from that, there have been murals made and more statues erected across the country, including the Tokyo University, to honour him.
Every year, on Hachi’s death anniversary – 8th March, a ceremony is held in his honour at the Shibuya Station were hundreds of people come to pay homage to his loyalty.
Hachi was well preserved and is now on display at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo.
Hachiko’s legacy remains unique, beautiful, tear-jerking and inspirational. His life was all about loyalty and love for the man who took him in.
I’d like to think that when Hachi boarded the train to heaven, he did see Hidesaburō again. This time, Hidesaburō was probably waiting for him. And perhaps after all these years, Hachi’s wait was over and he was finally reunited with his master, his friend.