Hachiko

Hachiko was an Akita dog born on a farm near the city of Odate, Akita Prefecture, remembered for his loyalty to his owner, even many years after his owner's death.

In 1924, Hachiko was brought to Tokyo by his owner, Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor in the agriculture department at the University of Tokyo. During his owner's life Hachiko saw him out from the front door and greeted him at the end of the day at the nearby Shibuya Station. The pair continued their daily routine until May 1925, when Professor Ueno did not return on the usual train one evening. The professor had suffered a stroke at the university that day. He died and never returned to the train station where his friend was waiting.

Hachiko was given away after his master's death, but he routinely escaped, showing up again and again at his old home. Eventually, Hachiko apparently realized that Professor Ueno no longer lived at the house. So he went to look for his master at the train station where he had accompanied him so many times before. Each day, Hachiko waited for Professor Ueno to return. And each day he did not see his friend among the commuters at the station.

The permanent fixture at the train station that was Hachiko attracted the attention of other commuters. Many of the people who frequented the Shibuya train station had seen Hachiko and Professor Ueno together each day. They brought Hachiko treats and food to nourish him during his wait.

This continued for nine years, with Hachiko appearing only in the evening time, precisely when the train was due at the station.

That same year, another of Ueno's faithful students (who had become something of an expert on the Akita breed) saw the dog at the station and followed him to the Kobayashi home where he learned the history of Hachiko's life. Shortly after this meeting, the former student published a documented census of Akitas in Japan. His research found only 30 purebred Akitas remaining, including Hachiko from Shibuya Station.

Professor Ueno's former student returned frequently to visit the dog and over the years published several articles about Hachiko's remarkable loyalty. In 1932 one of these articles, published in Tokyo's largest newspaper, threw the dog into the national spotlight. Hachiko became a national sensation. His faithfulness to his master's memory impressed the people of Japan as a spirit of family loyalty all should strive to achieve. Teachers and parents used Hachiko's vigil as an example for children to follow. A well-known Japanese artist rendered a sculpture of the dog, and throughout the country a new awareness of the Akita breed grew.

Eventually, Hachiko's legendary faithfulness became a national symbol of loyalty.

Hachiko died on a street in Shibuya on March 8, 1935. His stuffed and mounted remains are kept at the National Science Museum of Japan in Ueno, Tokyo.