On March 9, the day after Hachi died, an elaborate memorial service for the loyal Akita was conducted in front of Shibuya Station.
Hachi Receives a Traditional Ceremony
The area was filled with bouquets of colorful flowers, huge floral wreaths, and other offerings. Dr. Ueno’s widow Yae and the gardener Kobayashi Kikusaburō carefully combed Hachi’s coat and gave him the last sip of water per the Buddhist tradition.
In a formal ceremony, the head monk of Myōyū Temple chanted a prayer for the spirit of Hachi. People streamed in to pay their respects way into the evening, making the station a scene of pandemonium. Shibuya police officers were called in to control the traffic.
A Once-In-A-Lifetime Memorial
The Japanese had not mourned the death of a dog, or any other animal for that matter, in this grand fashion before or afterwards. To measure the sense of loss, the scene at Shibuya Station could be likened to the crowd that flocked to the Buckingham Palace gate in 1997, where people laid flowers and cards in mourning of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.
If Princess Diana was the “people’s princess,” Hachi can be considered the “people’s dog.”
For more details on Hachi’s incredible life, please read his new biography.
Author Mayumi Itoh is considered the “official biographer” of Hachiko. Mayumi is a former Professor of Political Science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and has previously taught at Princeton University and Queens College, City University of New York. She currently teaches haiku writing at Princeton University.