Hachiko: Japan's Most Loyal Dog

Hachiko became famous in history for his loyalty to his master, even many years after his owner's death.

Hachiko was born in Odate, a city in Akita Prefecture, Japan on November 10, 1923. The two month old puppy was sold to Hidesaburo Ueno, an agriculture professor at the Tokyo Imperial University who was looking for a pure bred Akita. Ueno named the puppy Hachi after the number eight which is considered lucky in Japan - the ko was added later. Hachi loved his master and the two quickly formed a very special bond.

Every morning when Ueno had to catch a train to work, Hachi would accompany him to the Shibuya Station to see him off, and every evening the dog would be there to greet him when he returned. This routine continued without fail until one fateful day in May 1925. While giving a lecture at the University, Ueno suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and shortly passed away at a nearby hospital. Hachi waited for hours that day, not knowing his master was never going to return.

Hachiko waits for his deceased master to return at the train station

After Ueno's death, Hachi was given away a few different times to families that lived miles away from the station. Despite the long distance, the dog kept running back to the station every evening in hopes of seeing his beloved master. Eventually, Hachi settled at the home of Kikuzaburo Kobayashi, a former gardener of Ueno. His home was close to Ueno's previous home, making the dog's daily walk to the station much easier. For almost ten years, until the day he died, Hachi awaited Ueno's return at the Shibuya Station. He would show up on time when the train was due and continue to stay for hours before heading back home.

Sadly, there are stories of people who would bully Hachi while he lingered around the station. In 1932, when Hirokichi Saito, the chairman of the Nihon Ken Hozonkai (The Association for the Preservation of the Japanese Dog) found out about Hachi and his story, he published an article in one of Japan's largest national newspapers about the loyal dog, and how he was being mistreated. The story touched many hearts and Hachi quickly became a public icon. The ko (meaning affection) was added to the end of his name around that time to show respect for his devotion and loyalty. He gradually became known as Hachiko. People from far away would come to see the famous dog at the Shibuya Station to offer love and morsels of food.

On March 8, 1935, Hachiko passed away on a street in Shibuya. He continues to be remembered worldwide with books, movies and statues, including one statue of Hachiko at the station where he waited and one of Hachiko greeting Ueno at the University where the professor worked. A taxidermied Hachiko, featuring his original fur, is on display at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo.