Monday, October 17, 2011

Great dog Hachi (1923 - 1935)

In 1923, an Akita Inu (Great Japanese Dog) was born in the Saito family that lived in northern part of Japan, Akita prefecture. At that time, in Tokyo, Dr. Eizaburo Ueno who works for Tokyo University as a professor of the department of agriculture was looking for an Akita Inu. Although Dr. Ueno had kept some Akita Inu until then, unfortunately they died quite young, but he still wished to keep a pedigreed Japanese dog. One of his students who knew Dr. Ueno's wish heard about an Akita Inu of the Saito family from his acquaintance, asked Mr. Saito to give him the dog. Mr. Saito was willing to give a dog and a two-month-old puppy was sent to Tokyo.

Dr. Ueno has already kept two dogs named John and S. The new dog came from Tohoku district was named "Hachi." Dr. Ueno loved Hachi so much that he always had a meal with Hachi. Elderly dog John took good care of the puppy Hachi as well. After a short while, three dogs started to see off and go to meet Dr. Ueno together in the every morning and evening at a ticket gate of Shibuya station or the gate of Tokyo University. The meeting places vary depending on the day of the week because of Dr. Ueno's job, but the dogs remembered the places very well.

One day in May 1925, only Hachi went to see Dr. Ueno off in the morning, and this was the last day for Hachi to see Dr. Ueno. On that day, Dr. Ueno was laid up with cerebral hemorrhage in the University after a faculty meeting, and then he passed away. It happened only one year and a few months after Hachi met Dr. Ueno. Hachi, who had no way of finding Dr. Ueno's death, went to meet Dr. Ueno at the gate of University in the evening as usual and waited for Dr. Ueno until it became dark. Since that day, Hachi shut himself in a lumber-room where Dr. Ueno's things were left behind and he did not eat anything for three days. Hachi, John and S went to Shibuya station even after the funeral of Dr. Ueno.

Later, Hachi was entrusted to one of the relatives of Mrs. Ueno and moved from Nihonbashi to Asakusa. However, even after Hachi moved to Asakusa, he ran eight kilometers from Asakusa to Shibuya to see Dr. Ueno every evening and it lasted for one year. The people of the Ueno family could not stand seeing poor Hachi, so they decided to entrust Hachi to Mr. Kikusaburo Kobayashi who was an old gardener for Ueno's family lived in Yoyogi near by Shibuya. As it was no great distance between previous Ueno's residence and Kobayashi's one, Hachi headed for Ueno's house after the meal and run to Shibuya station, and then sit tight in front of the gate. 

Ever since Hachi was entrusted to Mr. Kobayashi, he had kept waiting for his deceased master Dr. Ueno in front of the ticket gate of Shibuya station every day, either on hot summer days or on chilly winter days. Sometimes he was doodled on his face by cruel people, captured by dogcatchers and scolded by station staffs for entering the station yard. One day Mr. Saito, who was a member of Nihonken Hozon Kai (Preservation Society of Great Japanese Dogs.) noted Hachi who kept coming to the station in order to meet his deceased master. Mr. Saito contributed an article about Hachi to a newspaper and then Hachi leaped to fame. Hachi was loved even by the station employees and staffs of the station stands, and nicknamed "Chuken Hachiko" (a faithful dog, Hachi).

In 1934, a bronze statue of Hachiko was erected by Mr. Ando and established in front of the ticket gate of Shibuya station. In connection with the establishment of the statue, the ticket gate was named Hachiko-guchi and it remained as a symbol of Shibuya as our favorite meeting spot until today. However in March 1935, Hachiko was found dead at a silence alley on the opposite side of Shibuya station Hachiko used to stay. Hachiko died of filariasis. Hachiko remains at National Science Museum in Ueno as a stuffed animal and his dead body was buried in Aoyama Cemetery, where Hachiko's dearest master Dr. Ueno rests in peace.

Ten years later after the statue of Hachiko was established, as World War II became serious, metal material was running short and the statue, that was erected by the donation not only from Japanese children but also children of warring nations U.S. was brought to the army to produce weapons as a result. In 1948 after World War II ended, son of Mr. Ando reconstructed today's statue of Hachiko.
Some people said that the reason why Hachiko headed for Shibuya station at designated time every day was that he expected to eat yakitori given by yakitori stall in front of the station. Actually, the result of postmortem, a few spits of yakitori were found in his stomach. However, I believe that he was out of sheer desire to meet Dr. Ueno on that particular time at least during one year period time when Hachiko was running eight kilometers from Asakusa to Shibuya.

Thank you to for the above article.

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