Bradcat’s Japanese Culture Focus… Hachikō

Everyone knows a dog is a man’s best friend but the tale of Hachiko takes loyalty to another level. In the early 1920’s a Tokyo University professor named Eisaburo Ueno took in a golden brown Akita dog as a pet, and named him Hachiko. 

Over the years, Hachiko became so loyal to the professor, as to wait for him at Shibuya station after his commute from work, every day. This routine continued until May 1925, when sadly professor Eisaburo Ueno suffered from a cerebral haemorrhage while at work, and therefore never returned home. However Hachiko remained at the station… for nine years.

Local commuters brought Hachiko food and water to ensure he was looked after, until he died in March 1935. Yakitori skewers were found in Hatchiko’s stomach (a popular snack in Japan) however his cause of death was attributed to cancer and worms.

A bronze statue of Hatchiko was erected in 1934 (with Hatchiko being present at the ceremony) but was recycled during World War II. However, in 1948, a society organised a new statue to be built, and is still present at Shibuya station where Hatchiko remains waiting for his master.

Hatchiko has been featured in a lot of popular culture, including the episode of Futurama “Jurassic Bark” in which Fry’s loyal dog waits outside the pizza delivery shop he works at, even after Fry is accidentally frozen in 1999 for over 1,000 years.

Each year on April 8, Hachiko’s devotion is honored with a solemn ceremony of remembrance at Tokyo’s Shibuya railroad station. Hundreds of dog lovers often turn out to honour his memory and loyalty. 

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