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Hachikō, Japan's Most Faithful Dog

wikipedia.org - 10 Dec 2011

Hachikō (ハチ公?, November 10, 1923 – March 8, 1935), known in Japanese as chūken Hachikō (忠犬ハチ公 "faithful dog Hachikō" ['hachi' meaning 'eight', a number referring to the dog's birth order in the litter, and 'kō', meaning prince or duke]), was an Akita dog born on a farm near the city of Ōdate, Akita Prefecture, remembered for his remarkable loyalty to his owner, even many years after his owner's death.

Life

In 1924, Hidesaburō Ueno, a professor in the agriculture department at the University of Tokyo, took in Hachikō, a golden brown Akita, as a pet. During his owner's life, Hachikō greeted him at the end of each day at the nearby Shibuya Station. The pair continued their daily routine until May 1925, when Professor Ueno did not return. The professor had suffered from a cerebral hemorrhage and died, never returning to the train station where Hachikō was waiting. Every day for the next nine years the dog waited at Shibuya station.

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. They brought Hachikō treats and food to nourish him during his wait. This continued for nine years with Hachikō appearing precisely when the train was due at the station.

Publication

That same year, one of Ueno's students (who had become an amateur expert on the Akita breed) saw the dog at the station and followed him to the Kobayashi home (the home of the former gardener of Professor Ueno — Kikuzaboro Kobayashi) 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.

He 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 Asahi Shimbun, threw the dog into the national spotlight. Hachikō became a national sensation. His 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.

Eventually, Hachikō's legendary faithfulness became a national symbol of loyalty, particularly to the person and institution of the Emperor.

Death

Hachikō died on March 8, 1935, and was found on a street in Shibuya. In March 2011 scientists settled the cause of death of Hachikō: the dog had terminal cancer and a filaria infection (worms). There were also four yakitori sticks in Hachikō's stomach, but the sticks did not damage his stomach or cause his death.

Hachikō's stuffed and mounted remains are kept at the National Science Museum of Japan in Ueno, Tokyo.

Broze Statue

In April 1934, a bronze statue in his likeness was erected at Shibuya Station (35°39′32.6″N 139°42′2.1″E / 35.659056°N 139.700583°E / 35.659056; 139.700583), and Hachikō himself was present at its unveiling. The statue was recycled for the war effort during World War II. In 1948 The Society for Recreating the Hachikō Statue commissioned[citation needed] Takeshi Ando, son of the original artist, to make a second statue. When the new statue appeared, a dedication ceremony occurred. The new statue, which was erected in August 1948, still stands and is an extremely popular meeting spot. The station entrance near this statue is named "Hachikō-guchi", meaning "The Hachikō Entrance/Exit", and is one of Shibuya Station's five exits.

The Japan Times played a practical joke on readers by reporting that the bronze statue was stolen a little before 2:00 AM on April 1, 2007, by "suspected metal thieves." The false story told a very detailed account of an elaborate theft by men wearing khaki workers' uniforms who secured the area with orange safety cones and obscured the theft with blue vinyl tarps. The "crime" was allegedly recorded on security cameras.[11]

A similar statue stands in Hachikō's hometown, in front of Ōdate Station. In 2004, a new statue of Hachikō was erected on the original stone pedestal from Shibuya in front of the Akita Dog Museum in Odate.

The exact spot where Hachikō waited in the train station is permanently marked with bronze paw-prints and text in Japanese explaining his loyalty.

Annual Ceremoney

Each year on April 8, Hachikō's devotion is honored with a solemn ceremony of remembrance at Tokyo's Shibuya railroad station. Hundreds of dog lovers often turn out to honor his memory and loyalty.

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