The legend of Hachiko


06 December 2014

The legend of Hachiko

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Not even death could break the bond between one man and his best friend.

The story of Hachiko is part of Japanese folklore and symbolises the devotion of pet dogs all over the world.

A most loyal companion

When Japanese university professor Hidesburo Ueno was given an Akita puppy it didn't take long for a special bond to form. Ueno would take the train to work and on his return, his dog, Hachiko, would greet him at Shibuya station in Tokyo.

After just a year together, tragedy struck - Professor Ueno died unexpectedly at work. When his owner didn't return home, Hachiko spent the rest of his life waiting. Every day he returned to the station at the exact time the train was due, in the hope of being reunited with his owner. He became a familiar face to the commuters there, who would feed him. Despite attempts to rehome him, Hachiko escaped, returning to his old home and continuing his vigil until he died in 1935, nearly a decade after Professor Ueno.

In 1932 Hachi became a national sensation when his story was reported in a newspaper. 

A statue of the faithful canine was erected outside Shibuya station and has remained a popular tourist attraction ever since.

The legend grows

Though an important part of Japanese culture, Hachi's story was relatively unknown outside his homeland. 

In 2009, however, a movie about the dog's incredible loyalty was released. ‘Hachi: a dog's tale', starring Richard Gere, was an American adaptation of a Japanese original released in 1987.

The story of Hachi's loyalty spread and a replica statue was erected in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, USA, which was used as the backdrop for the film.

Hachiko facts 

  • Richard Gere was said to have cried when he first read the script for ‘Hachi: a dog's tale'.

  • In 1994 a Japanese radio station recovered a sound clip from a broken record that was reportedly Hachiko barking.

  • Hachi's body was preserved and put on show at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Japan.

  • Hachiko appeared in a school textbook in the year of his death to help teach Japanese children about morals.

  • The original statue of Hachi was melted down in 1944 to help the Japanese war effort. A replacement was made by Takeshi Ando, whose father had made the original, and unveiled in 1948.