Long ago in Japan, a professor from the University of Tokyo decided to adopt a dog. He wanted a pure bred Akita pup, a breed of large and powerful dogs from the mountains on the northern side of the island. It was not an easy task, as finding an Akita puppy back in those times was quite tricky. The professor looked everywhere, taking his time and widening his search. Finally, in 1924, he found what he was looking for in the city of Odate. The professor got himself a perfect pup, strong, healthy and, most importantly, pure Akita. It was love at first sight, a match made in heaven. The professor took the pup home and named him Hachikō.
The pup grew, becoming big, brawny and fluffy. The professor treated Hachikō as his own child, sharing his home and his life with him. As the years went by, Hachikō got a habit of walking his master to the Shibuya Train Station in the morning, and meeting him there in the evening, when the professor would returned from a hard day of work. This delightful route continued for nearly two years, when one day the professor simply did not come back. He suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and passed away, without seeing his dear pup ever again.
Obviously Hachikō did not know about the sad fate of his master. Evening after evening, he would come to the train station and wait for the professor, staring at the passing by trains and sniffing the cool air. Slowly he gained admiration of the commuters and the train station workers, and soon became a popular mascot for the locals. He was often rewarded with treats, yummy foods and generous behind-ear scratches. In 1932, when a story about Hachikō appeared in Asahi Shimbun, a major Japanese newspaper, he became a national wide celebrity, and people from all over the country came to the Shibuya Train Station to see and to pat the most loyal dog.
Years went by, Hachikō grew and got older, but never, not even for a single evening, did he stop going to the train station, always hoping to finally see his greatly missed master. He did so for ten years, until, in 1935, he passed away on a street in Shibuya. Hachikō was creamed and buried in Aoyama Cemetery, Minato, Tokyo, next to his beloved professor. The master and his dog were finally reunited.
The story of Hachikō did not end there, as he became the national hero, a symbol for loyalty and devotion. In 1934, while the pup was still alive and well, a bronze statue of him was unveiled by the Shibuya Train Station. And after his death more tributes followed, another statue was unveiled by Ōdate Station, then another one by Akita Dog Museum in Odate, and, after a success of American movie based on Hachikō’s life, a sculpture of him was erected at the Woonsocket Depot Square, Rhode Island. He was featured in numerous books, comics, movies and TV shows as his legend lives on and grows. Today you can find Hachikō, his stuffed and well preserved fur, at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Ueno, or you can visit an annual ceremony in his honour that is held on March 8, near the Tokyo’s Shibuya railroad station.