Hachikō, an Akita dog that lived in Japan from 1923 to 1935, turns 100 years old on Friday.
Remembering Hachikō: Hachikō, who was born on Nov. 10, 1923, in the city of Odate, Akita Prefecture, is remembered for his remarkable loyalty to his owner Hidesaburo Ueno, who was an agricultural university professor at the Tokyo Imperial University (now University of Tokyo). Under Ueno’s care, Hachikō would wait at the Shibuya station for him to come home every day. But on May 21, 1925, Ueno unexpectedly died of a cerebral hemorrhage at work.
Hachikō was then passed around to different families outside Shibuya before he eventually ended up with Ueno’s gardener Kikusaburo Kobayashi in the summer of 1925. The Akita dog continued to go to the train station every day to wait for Ueno’s return for nearly 10 years — nine years, nine months and 15 days to be exact — until he died from terminal cancer at the age of 11 on March 8, 1935.
Mistreatment and fame: According to Hachikō’s biographer, professor Mayumi Itoh, employees at the station initially saw him as a nuisance. Vendors would reportedly pour water on him and boys would bully or hit him. Hachikō received better treatment after he became popular when he was introduced in a newspaper in October 1932 as “a dog waiting for the return of his late master.”
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“In the evening, Hachi stood on four legs at the ticket gate and looked at each passenger as if he were looking for someone,” Itoh wrote, according to BBC.
Hachikō’s statue: Hachikō’s story and loyalty to his owner continues to inspire people of all generations today. His remains were buried next to his owner in Aoyama Cemetery in Tokyo’s Minato.
A bronze statue of the dog was first erected at the station in 1934 before it was recycled for the war effort during World War II. In August 1948, a new statue of Hachikō was made. Today, locals and foreigners queue up to take photos with the statue, which is often decorated with scarves, hats and recently, a surgical mask. Similar statues were also made to stand in front of Odate Station and the University of Tokyo.
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Remembrance: Hachikō’s story was also adapted into the 1987 Japanese film “Hachikō Monogatari” and the 2009 American film “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale.”
Every year in April, a memorial service for the dog is reportedly held outside Shibuya Station. For this year in Odate, an event will be held on Nov. 11 and 12 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Hachikō’s birth.
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