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Sunday, 5 April 2009

The story of Hachikō

Throughout history there are several stories about faithful dogs. In fact there is no other creature that represents the ideal of loyalty better than dogs. From Homer's Argos to our modern day saying 'dog is man's best friend'
The loyalty label was placed on dogs from observation mainly, but there have been throughout time some trully charistmatic four-paws creatures that illustrate the point. I am certain that in dog's universe - just like man's - there are these leadership figures that are so powerful that give dogs their characterisations as loyal friends. These great leaders have left their mark not only in dog's world, but also in our own. A huge mark.
There are so many great dog figures that it would be unjust to talk about all of them at once. I would like to devote separate postings on each one and their story from time to time
Now I would like to dedicate this posting to a female Akita dog who lived in Tokyo in the 1920s and since then there has been a square, a tube stop and two statues named after this remarkable dog. BTW, I am assuming female as all the Japanese names finishing in -ko are girl names.
Manos & Libia told me of Hachiko's story. Living in Tokyo for a year and a half they could not have missed it. They have crossed the tube station several times
So here how the story goes:
In 1924, Hachikō was brought to Tokyo by her owner, Hidesaburō Ueno, a professor in the agriculture department at the University of Tokyo. During his owner's life Hachikō saw him off from the front door and greeted him at the end of the day at the nearby Shibuya Station. Every morning Hachiko would accompany her master at the station and every evening she would wait for him to accompany him home for dinner. The pair continued their daily routine until May 1925, when Professor Ueno didn't return on the usual train one evening. The professor had suffered a stroke at the university that day. He died and never returned to the train station where his friend was waiting.

Hachikō was given away after her master's death, but she routinely escaped, showing up again and again at her old home. After time, Hachikō apparently realized that Professor Ueno no longer lived at the house. So she went to look for her master at the train station where he had accompanied him so many times before. Each day, Hachikō waited for Professor Ueno to return. And each day he didn't see her friend among the commuters at the station.

The permanent fixture at the train station that was Hachikō attracted the attention of other commuters. Many of the people who frequented the Shibuya train station had seen Hachikō and Professor Ueno together each day. Realizing that Hachikō waited in vigil for his dead master, their hearts were touched. They brought Hachikō treats and food to nourish him during his wait.

This continued for 10 years, with Hachikō appearing only in the evening time, precisely when the train was due at the station.

That same year, another of Ueno's former students (who had become something of an expert on the Akita breed) saw the dog at the station and followed him to the Kobayashi home where he learned the history of Hachikō's life. Shortly after this meeting, the former student published a documented census of Akitas in Japan. His research found only 30 purebred Akitas remaining, including Hachikō from Shibuya Station.

Professor Ueno's former student returned frequently to visit the dog and over the years published several articles about Hachikō's remarkable loyalty. In 1932 one of these articles, published in Tokyo's largest newspaper, threw the dog into the national spotlight. Hachikō became a national sensation. Her faithfulness to his master's memory impressed the people of Japan as a spirit of family loyalty all should strive to achieve. Teachers and parents used Hachikō's vigil as an example for children to follow. A well-known Japanese artist rendered a sculpture of the dog, and throughout the country a new awareness of the Akita breed grew.

Hachikō died on March 8, 1935, of filariasis (heartworm). Her stuffed and mounted remains are kept at the National Science Museum of Japan in Ueno, Tokyo

In 1987 a huge japanese blockbuster was released with Hachiko's story and an imaginary re-union with her master after her death.
For the more ..westerner among us, a 2008 film - to be released in August 2009 - starring Richard Gere. The movie is called Hachiko: A Dog's Story and it is about the relationship between the dog and the master.


jack n. said...

A very sweet story. This dedication of Hachico is awesome!

Manos Tsatsanis said...

The most crowded crossing on the planet next to the Hachiko square:

Libia said...

"Let´s meet at the Hachiko exit!"
I miss texting that to my friends...
When I learned for the first time the story at my Japanese class, I could not believe it myself. The bond between a dog and their caretaker is amazing!!

Zeta Zizou said...

Libita!!! So good you wrote. I will write more on Japan and Latam so you can comment. Miss you very much.
Big kisses

Pugs are the superior creatures in any planet

Don't you wish you were hot like Frankie (the Pug)???
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