You are probably familiar with the Hachiko statue. It is Shibuya‘s most important meeting place.
You also probably also know something about the dog who waited patiently at Shibuya Station each day for his owner, even after his master died. Japan continues to be inspired by the story.
In 2015, another statue was placed at The University of Tokyo’s campus. This caused even more emotions. We couldn’t help but make our own Hachi ode with a list containing little-known facts about man’s best friend.
1.Hachiko is actually not from Tokyo
Hachiko is not from Shibuya or Tokyo, despite being the symbol of Tokyo’s most fashionable hood. Hachiko was born in Odate City, Akita Prefecture, in 1923 to Oshinai (named for the area they lived in) and Goma (which means sesame). Hidesaburo Ueno (an agricultural scientist at Tokyo University) purchased the newborn pup for ¥30.
He was looking for an Akita-inu pure-bred Akita (‘Akita’ dog). The puppy was taken on an express train to Tokyo and arrived there 20 hours later. Ueno named the puppy Hachi in honor of the number 8, which is considered lucky in Japan. The ‘ko’ was later added.
Odate City is proud to be Hachiko (and the Akita breed’s!) furusato (hometown) and loves to display it. There is a Hachiko statue at Odate Station, and there are many other Akita-inu statues around the area like the one on top of City Hall’s postbox . The maintenance hole covers of the city have been decorated with Hachiko-related cartoon characters. A small museum, Akitainu Hozonkai is also available that will teach you everything you need to know about Akitainu.
2. He was bullied
Hachi was taken away by others after Ueno’s death in 1925 and forced to move between Shibuya’s many homes. But he kept running back to the spot where he used to meet his owner every morning. He eventually settled at Kikuzaburo Kobayashi’s home, Ueno’s former gardener. Kobayashi’s house was located in Tomigaya, close to Ueno’s former home and within walking distance to Shibuya. This allowed the pup to walk to the station every day easily. This continued for approximately ten years while he waited patiently for Ueno’s return. There are many stories of Hachi being bullied and beaten by pedestrians while he waited for Ueno to return home.
3.His story became a worldwide sensation in 1932
After Hirokichi Saito (chairman of the Nihon Ken Hozonkai) learned about Hachi’s story, Saito published a newspaper article in the Asahi Shimbun about the mistreatment of the puppy. This story instantly grabbed the hearts of readers and made Hachi a household name. To show his loyalty and devotion, the ‘ko was added to Hachi’s last name. He gradually became known as Hachiko.
4.He was present at the unveiling of his statue.
It is unusual for honorific statues to be constructed while the person or dog in question (in this case, Hachiko) is still alive. However, Hachiko did make an appearance at the 1934 opening of his statue. According to rumors, scammers attempted to make some money from the unveiling by claiming they created the sculpture. Teru Ando was an acquaintance of Saito and rushed to complete his masterpiece before it got out of control.
5.His statue was used to make train parts during World War II.
Hachiko’s statue was not exempted from metal duty during the Pacific War. The original statue was also melted one day before the end of the war. Some believe that the metal was used for parts of a locomotive part of the Tokaido Line. Takeshi, Ando’s son, built a new statue after the war. This is the one you can see today in Shibuya. The current statue dates back to 1967.
6.Hachiko and Ueno were reunited over 90 years later.
Eighty years after Hachiko’s death, the University of Tokyo began creating a memorial statue to reunite Hachiko with his owner. To realize the fantasy reunion, donations from individuals and businesses totaled more than Y=10,000,000. It can be found on the University of Tokyo campus, right next to Ueno Park.
7 . A monument Aside from Ueno’s tomb is there if you want to pay respects
A monument was placed at Aoyama Cemetery next to Ueno’s grave shortly after Hachiko’s death in 1935. It is more like a park and covers a large area close to Gaienmae Itchome stations. The cemetery is also worth a visit for its stunning cherry blossom displays in spring, the architecture of the gravestones, and the rich history. Numerous famous people have been buried here ever since it was constructed in 1872.
8.It is possible to see his organs as well as his stuffed body.
Initial autopsy reports stated that Hachiko had a parasitic disease in his internal organs. Hachiko also apparently had a few yakitori chicken skewers in the stomach. After his organs were re-examined since they were kept in specimen bottles, they discovered that everyone’s favorite canine actually died from cancer.
If you are interested in a visual examination of the organs, you can see them at The University of Tokyo’s Faculty of Agriculture. It is located near Ueno Park. You can also see a taxidermized Hachiko, at the National Museum of Nature and Science.
9.He is not the only dog in Ueno Park.
You might also like to visit the statues of Saigo Takamori, a samurai, and Tsun, a dog. Hachiko (and Tsun) have been chosen to be the symbolic protectors for Tokyo and Japan’s economy due to their status. It’s a lot like the Komainu pairs that were placed at shrine entrances as guardians. It’s romantic to say that the female Tsun is Hachiko’s perfect yin and the male Tsun’s perfect yang.
10.Hollywood made him American, but there’s a better movie.
The film Hachi – A Dog’s Tale was released in 2009. It starred Richard Gere. It’s heartbreaking, but it was shot in the USA, which detracts from its cultural significance. To get a better understanding of Hachiko’s life, you can watch Hachiko Mongatari.
Also read about Exclusive Hachiko Inspired Adidas Sneakers!