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The Story of Hachiko

Hachiko was an Akita Inu that lived for twelve years in Japan. He was brought to Tokyo in 1924 by his owner, Hidesaburo Ueno. Hidesaburo was an agriculture professor at the University of Tokyo and commuted to work every day by train and Hachiko would accompany his master every day back and forth from the train station. Every day, the young Akita would wait patiently for his master’s return on the train platform.

But on May 25, 1925, when Hachiko was eighteen months old, his master did not return. The dog waited like he did every day for the professor to arrive on the four o’clock train, not knowing that his master had suffered a stroke at work and died.

Soon after his master’s death, Hachiko was given to the professor’s relatives to be cared for, but the dog would constantly escape and return to his old home to wait for the professor. Eventually, Hachiko realized his master no longer lived there and return to the train platform. As the legend goes, Hachiko would wait at that platform every day for Professor Ueno to return but his master never came back.

Other commuters who had saw the relationship between master and dog were touched by the dog’s show of devotion (who wouldn’t be touched) and they started to bring treats and food to Hachiko as he waited for his master. This behavior went on for ten years with the dog appearing every night at four o’clock when the train was due.

Shortly after Hachiko’s death, they erected a bronze statue at the train station in his honor. Eventually, the statue of Hachiko was declared a Japanese Natural Monument and the dog’s legendary faithfulness became a symbol of loyalty to the state.

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As a footnote, the Akita’s image became so popular as a symbol of loyalty that his image was use in propaganda that would be used to spur that fanaticism lead to the Second Sino-Japanese War and eventually World War II.

Hachiko led a beautiful life and died on March 8, 1935. His remains were stuffed and mounted and are now on display at the National Science Museum of Japan in Ueno, Tokyo. Every year in April, there is a ceremony at Tokyo’s Shibuta railroad station where hundreds of dog lovers show up to honor Hachiko’s memory and legendary loyalty.

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