Written by Chiara Mischke
Meet Hachiko! 5 Places Related To Japan's Famous Loyal Dog
Everybody knows the story of the loyal dog named Hachiko. His story has even been turned into movies and literature. This article introduces you to five places you should visit if you love this famous Akita dog!
Most people all over know the story of Hachi, the loyal Akita dog that waited for his owner long after he had passed away. Many visitors to Japan see Hachi's statue at Shibuya Station.
But did you know that this is not the only place where you can greet Hachi? Let us show you the places you can visit if you like Hachi.
Hachiko - A Story of Loyalty
If you aren't familiar with Hachi's story, let us shortly introduce it to you.
In 1924, Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor at the University of Tokyo, took a pure breed Akita dog as a pet and named him Hachi. Hachi is the word for number eight in Japanese, which is considered a lucky number.
Hachi used to follow professor Ueno to Shibuya Station every morning where the professor would take the train to work. In the afternoon, the dog would pick him up at the station to go home together.
One morning in May 1925, Hachi accompanied professor Ueno to the Station as always, but Ueno wouldn't return that afternoon. He suffered a brain hemorrhage at the university and passed away. Not aware of his owner's passing, Hachi kept returning to Shibuya Station every day to wait for him.
People tried to take Hachiko in, but he kept breaking free to go to Shibuya Station. Finally, he settled in the home of Ueno's former gardener close to Shibuya Station. However, this didn't stop him from going to Shibuya Station every day at precisely the time his owner would normally return.
The station staff and some residents weren't happy about the "stray dog" lurking around the station and tried to chase him away many times. But nothing could stop Hachi from returning every day to wait for his master.
He became famous after one of professor Ueno's former students heard of Hachi's story and wrote about him. Hachi was even designated a national icon of loyalty after his story was published in the early 1930s. People added the "ko" (A word expressing affection) to his name in recognition of his loyalty. He is nowadays known as Hachiko.
Hachiko ended up waiting for his owner every day for nearly ten years until his passing in March 1935.
Now, let's see some of the places that are related to Hachi.
1. Shibuya Station
Hachi's famous bronze statue is located right in front of Shibuya Station's Hachiko Exit, which was named after him as well.
He was supposedly sitting here every day to wait for professor Ueno. Many people take pictures with the statue or even decorate it.
On a snowy night in 2014, when the trains had stopped because of the snowfall and many people were stuck at Shibuya Station, someone even built a snow replica of the dog beside the statue.
But did you know that this is not the original statue? The original statue was revealed in 1934, one year before Hachi's death. Hachiko himself had been present when the statue was revealed. However, the original statue was melted and recycled in the war efforts of WWII.
In 1948, Takeshi Ando, the son of the original artist, created the statue you can see at Shibuya Station today.
Many dog lovers still celebrate Hachi every year commemorating the day of his death, March 8th, by visiting the statue and offering presents.
However, the statue is not the only piece of Hachiko-related art you can see around Shibuya Station. You can also see a colorful mosaic wall art on the station wall right in front of the Hachiko Exit.
It shows Hachiko in different poses as well as some cute Akita puppies.
Even the manhole covers around the statue have Hachi on them!
And if you enter the underground passage beneath the statue, you will find dog paw prints all over the floor. These are supposed to represent Hachiko's paw prints.
If you feel like straying further from the station, you can also find a small replica of the famous Hachiko statue in front of the Tower Records Shibuya store.
2. The University of Tokyo in Ueno
In 2015, the University of Tokyo revealed a statue in honor of its former employee and his famous dog. 2015 was the 80th anniversary of Hachi's passing. In Japan, 80 is pronounced hachi-juu, so it was a special year for Hachi.
The statue shows professor Ueno and Hachi happily reunited. The campus is open to visitors and the statue is located right beside the entrance. There are even spotlights illuminating it at night. It is a truly heartwarming sight.
The statue is located right beside the No-Seimon Gate of the Hongo Campus, which can be easily accessed from Ueno. For details, please refer to this convenient map of the campus.
A little-known fact is that the archive museum of the University of Tokyo's Faculty of Agriculture displays some of Hachi's preserved organs as well. Hachi was dissected after his passing. His organs where actually re-examined in 2011 to investigate the cause of his death. If you are interested, feel free to visit the museum and have a look.
3. The National Museum of Nature and Science in Ueno
You might be surprised to know that you can find the real Hachiko at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Ueno. Many people stroll past him without even recognizing him. The plate just reads "Akita dog (Hachi)", so you might just think that the taxidermy displayed with two other dogs is just a random Akita dog like Hachi. But it is actually the real taxidermied body of the loyal Hachiko!
He is displayed along with Jiro, another national hero. Jiro is one of the two Japanese Sakhalin Huskies famous for being the only two dogs surviving a year in Antarctica after being abandoned during a failed scientific expedition to the South Pole.
4. Aoyama Cemetery
Burying animals at a human cemetery is not very common in Japan. However, in Hachi's case, there seemed to be no other appropriate way after his passing. He needed to be reunited with his beloved professor Ueno after he waited 10 years for this moment! So an exception was made. He was cremated and laid to rest beside his owner in the Aoyama cemetery.
Those in the knowing bring him offerings of snacks and place them in front of his doghouse-shaped little shrine.
Aoyama cemetery is especially beautiful in spring as it's a famous cherry blossom viewing spot as well.
5. Odate City in Akita
Hachi was born on a farm near Odate City in Akita as a pure breed Akita dog. The city prides itself being the birthplace of the famous dog. You can find Hachi statues and comics wherever you go.
In front of Odate Station, you can find the other famous Hachi statue showcasing a young Hachi. The original was built a couple of months after the statue in Shibuya and suffered the same fate in WWII. It was rebuilt in the same year as the Shibuya Hachi.
For a while, they even tried to get the famous statue from Shibuya Station because they wanted Hachi to come home. In 2004, Akita Prefecture revealed a Hachi built on the stone pedestal of the original Shibuya statue in front of the Akita Dog Museum in Odate.
Odate is a great place to visit if you like Hachi and dogs in general, not to mention that Akita itself is an area with beautiful natural scenery and many other chams.
A Story of Neverending Love and Devotion
Hachi's story of loyalty and love never fails to touch hearts and he will never be forgotten. His legacy has been kept alive in literature and movies all over the world.
We introduced you some of the places which are helping preserve his memory. How about exploring the true story of Hachi yourself by visiting some of these places?
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