For hundreds of years, the phrase “dogs are a man’s best friend” has been spoken widely across many tongues. Their loyalty has been widely regarded in the media across several platforms. However throughout Japan, there is one dog who is more commonly known than the rest.
The Akita is a breed of dog commonly found in Japan. They have a strong physical resemblance to the Shiba Inu with the only major difference being their size. In 1924, Hidesaburō Ueno, a professor of agriculture at the University of Tokyo, adopted a one-year old Akita named Hachikō. The professor commuted by rail daily to his workplace. Initially, Hachikō was so attached to him that on multiple occasions, he made the professor late for work. However as weeks progressed, Hachikō followed a pattern of walking to the train station with the professor every morning, returning home for the day, and then meeting him back in the afternoon. This routine was followed for over a year until Professor Ueno had a sudden cerebral hemorrhage while giving a lecture and immediately passed away. For the next 9 years, Hachikō continued his routine waiting at the station. He was fed by the locals who frequent the rail service and by those who’ve known the professor. He passed away from a filaria infection in March of 1935. A statue was erected in 1948 commemorating his insurmountable loyalty and still stands outside the Shibuya Station today.
The tale of Hachikō has floated across the ocean and infected the hearts of those in America. In 2009, Hachi: A Dog’s Tale was released in theatres across the United States and open the eyes of many to his story. However, the movie took place in the 21st-century western world and although most of the film kept to the factual events, there were some differences. In the film, the professor found Hachi running loose in the train station one night and from there, adopted him as his own. Towards the end of the movie, the professor was leaving for work one morning and unlike his normal self, Hachi did not want to walk with him to the station. However, he ended up following him and being more affectionate than usual. It is a common legend that dogs are able to sense when something dark is about to happen and later that day while giving a lecture, the professor died from a heart attack. The film brought more attention to the tale of Hachiko and altogether, the love of dogs everywhere.
“Dogs love their friends and bite their enemies, quite unlike people, who are incapable of pure love and always have to mix love and hate.”