Remembering Hachiko on his Birthday…

Who would believe a sickly Akita puppy would be immortalized with a bronze statue? Situated adjacent Shibuya Crossing, the busiest intersection in the world, his dignified figure still waits — for the return of his beloved owner, Professor Ueno.

To understand how unlikely this came to be, let’s start at the beginning.

“On Hachi’s birthday, I think back to the first months of his life. I can imagine a plump squirming puppy playing with his four male siblings in a barn. Hachi was born on a farm in snow country, Odate, Akita prefecture, to a wealthy landlord farmer.”

Hachi was born in November 1923. The exact date is unknown. At two months old, the Akita puppy was gifted to professor Ueno Hidesaburo by a former student. On January 14, 1924, Hachi was placed in a small tightly-knit straw crate for his long journey. Straw crates retained heat and was also used to carry rice.

Three people walked 12.5 miles to Ōdate Station, carrying Hachi in the midst of a snowstorm. Hachi departed Ōdate Station at 3: 20 PM and scheduled to arrive at Ueno Station in Tokyo at 8: 50 AM the next day.

The Ōdate-Ueno route ran through a series of mountain ranges, including one of the steepest approaches to a pass for trains in Japan. The train climbed up and down mountain peaks and passed through numerous tunnels, oscillating wildly — the locomotives giving off thick soot.

It must have been a terrifying experience for the two-month-old puppy. He was separated from his mother and siblings, carried outside in a blizzard, and sat in a crate on a bumpy train for 20 hours.

An Unlucky Start

On the day of Hachi’s arrival, the newspapers reported that Tokyo was hit by a strong earthquake and a windstorm. As he entered the city, a storm was blowing over the capital city.

People thought Hachi was dead when he arrived.

Yet this frightened puppy went on to experience an extraordinary life that would change not only the history of Japanese dogs, and the creation of a new breed called American Akita – but symbolize compassion, undying love, and loyalty worldwide.

Hachi’s birthday marked the very beginning of an endless tale of loyalty, love, and the depths of true friendship. His daily walks to the train station have been memorialized numerous times, and his bronze statue is one of the most famous destinations in Japan.

Yet his early life, before the professor, is almost unknown.

In 1934, Hachiko’s first statue was sculpted by Teru Ando and placed at Shibuya Station. During World War II, the bronze statue was melted for war material. The photo of a relaxed Hachi was taken around that time by the late Isamu Yamamoto, a former bank employee who lived in the Shibuya Ward, Tokyo. Yamamoto’s family found the photo and presented it to Takeshi Ando, son of the original Hachiko sculptor. Takeshi Ando sculpted the second Hachiko statue that we see today.

“I have never looked at such a photo that caught the atmosphere of Hachiko’s everyday life at that time so well,” Ando said.

Happy birthday, Hachiko! Your story will always remain with us forever

(Many thanks to author Mayumi Itoh. Her book “Hachiko: Solving Twenty Mysteries About The Most Famous Dog in Japan” was published in commemoration of Hachi’s 94th anniversary of his birthday. A substantial update of her 2013 ground breaking book “Hachi: The Truth of the Life and Legend of the Most Famous Dog in Japan”, Itoh addresses everything you wanted to know about the loyal Akita. )

 

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Ronald
Ronald
2022 years ago

Happy birthday Hachi! The new photo is such a heartwarming one. Hachi is already old and tired but still hopeful that his master will still come back. He taught us the meaning of loyalty, that you should never forget anyone that you loved. 🙂
Hachi is a dog that will always have a special place in my heart aside from my current pet, YORKY who is a shih tzu.

Sira Sudhindranath
Sira Sudhindranath
2022 years ago

Great to see these rare Hachi pictures! Thanks for posting them.
It occurred to me that the puppy Hachi’s long train journey to Shibuya was mirrored in the puppy’s air trip from Japan to Bedridge, RI in the movie “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale”.

Vicki
Vicki
2022 years ago

Yes, Hachi’s journey to America in the film was similar to his real life trip. He arrived into the complete unknown, and the professor and Hachi were bonded forever after.

Stacey
Stacey
2022 years ago

We think this is one of the best photos of Hachi….so clear, and gives a good idea of his real size! Many happy returns, Hachi.

Denny
Denny
2022 years ago

Hachi is a gift from God to teach us about devotion. What Hachi do in his life echoes to eternity. Everytime i read the articles or story about hachi, it always make me cry.
Happy Birthday Dear Hachi….I always pray for your happiness to be with your lovely bestfriend Mr. Hidesaburo ueno in heaven. All the angels smile at you, my friend

Sira Sudhindranath
Sira Sudhindranath
2022 years ago
Reply to  Denny

I really love the picture of Hachi outside the train station. His face seems to show a mix of faith, patience, assurance and confidence that Prof. Ueno will be coming back. He appears to be saying, “It’s only a question of time”.
Great picture. What a treasure!

Vicki
Vicki
2022 years ago

I treasure that relaxed image too. Hachi appears ever hopeful with never ending faith in the professor’s return. We can really feel his devotion!

BruceB
BruceB
2022 years ago

Vicki
We are always grateful to you for your remembrance and caring about Hachi . Sometimes in this world, devotion and love are better exhibited by animals, than by humans. Happy Birthday, Hachiko. .
美しい犬

Gurwinder Singh Rauni
Gurwinder Singh Rauni
2022 years ago

hi. guys, I Am from Punjab, India.
i love hachi very mch. i want to see that station. and hachi ….. i feel very sad thn i read ther story of hachi.. anyone pls tll me more about hachi… 9501337166 my mobile number..
lv u hachi… lv u hachi.. i want hachi dog.. or like him… hachi pls come back… lv u

Gurwinder Singh Rauni
Gurwinder Singh Rauni
2022 years ago

hi. guys, I Am from Punjab, India.
i love hachi very mch. i want to see that station. and hachi ….. i feel very sad thn i read ther story of hachi.. anyone pls tll me more about hachi… 9501337166 my mobile number..
lv u hachi… lv u hachi.. i want hachi dog.. or like him. hachi pls come back. lv u

Ellen S
Ellen S
2022 years ago

Remembering Hachi on this day – November 10, 2016.I think of you every day and will never forget your loyal devotion to the Professor. Happy Birthday Hachi!

Chris
Chris
2022 years ago

Hi Vicki, in the start of the film in Japan could you provide some detail please on where Hachi is. Is that a Buddhist temple and is there backstory on how that was decided as his origin versus something along the lines of a farm like the real Hachiko came from?
It does have a beautiful imagery and lends a mystical quality to his start in life.

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