After a profound demonstration of devotion for his master, a dog becomes the symbol of loyalty for an entire nation.
Eizaburo Ueno, professor in agriculture science at Tokyo University in Japan, had long wanted a purebred Japanese Akita dog. He had looked for the perfect Akita puppy for a long time, until one of his students encouraged him to adopt Hachiko, from the Odate city in the Akita prefecture of Japan.
If there was one thing that Professor Ueno could count on, it was certainly the sight of his loyal dog, which patiently waiting for him as he stepped off the train every evening after his journey.
Every day, for a year, the golden Akita, nicknamed Hachikō, would accompany the professor to Shibuya Station, and every day he would be waiting for his owner to return for the walk home.
But one sad day, on May 21, 1925, when the train came, Professor Ueno didn’t appear. So, Hachikō returned the next day, and the next, but there was no way to tell to the poor dog what had become of his owner: the Professor had died of a stroke, died suddenly and unexpectedly while at work, and would never step off of the train to greet him again.
Hachiko moved in with a former gardener of the Ueno family, but throughout the rest of his life, he kept going to the Shibuya Train Station every morning and afternoon precisely when the train was due to enter the station.
For nine years, Hachikō waited for the train every day, he sat there for hours, patiently waiting in vain for the return of his beloved owner which sadly never came back. Commuters and station employees would feed him treats and keep him company, and an old student of the professor retraced the dog’s genealogy, discovering Hachikō as one of only 30 purebred Akitas remaining.
In 1934 a statue of Hachiko was unveiled at a grand ceremony in front of Shibuya train station with Hachiko himself present as the main guest.
Hachikō died of a combination of cancer and worms in the streets of Shibuya on March 8, 1935, but the dog became a celebrity over the years, inspiring every kind of books, films, art and poetry.
A major Japanese newspaper reporter picked up the story of Hachiko in 1932 and published it, which led to Hachiko becoming a celebrity all over Japan. People started calling him “Chuken-Hachiko“, which means “Hachiko – the faithful dog“.