May 15, 2009

The Story of Hachiko

November 10, 1923 - March 8, 1935

Hachiko was an Akita born in the Akita prefecture in 1923 and brought to Tokyo in 1924 by his owner, Mr. Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor in the agriculture department of the University of Tokyo, then known as the Imperial University. Professor Ueno walked to the Shibuya train station each day to catch the train to the school and Hachiko (whose full name was Chu-ken Hachiko, which literally translates to "the faithful dog Hachiko") would walk with him each day. They would leave their house together and then Hachiko would return to the professor's home once his master was on the train. Later he would walk back to the station at the end of the day and wait patiently on the platform for his owner to step off the train. The two would then once again walk back home together. They did this each and every day for nearly two years.

One day in May of 1925, the professor suffered a fatal stroke while at the university but Hachiko was there waiting on the platform that evening not knowing his master would never again come home to him. The professor's family came to take the dog home with them, but each day Hachiko would run away from the family's home and walk back and forth between the professor's old house and the train station looking for his master. Sometimes he would be away for days, repeatedly walking the route he and Mr. Ueno took each day. Each morning Hachiko would walk from the house he shared with his former master to the train and would be waiting at the station once again in the evening, tail wagging, waiting for his master to step off the train. He was less than two years old when his beloved master passed away, yet Hachiko continued his vigil each and every day at Shibuya Station for over ten more years. Those commuters who had seen Hachiko and his master before the man had passed and knew the dog's enduring loyalty, brought food and water to the devoted pet as he sat on his endless vigil for his master.

On March 8, 1935 Hachiko died on the very platform where he last saw his master, while waiting to meet his train just as he had each day since the man had passed. A bronze statue now stands on the platform where Hachiko waited each day so long ago, and morning and night he greets each and every person who comes through the station by train. His stuffed remains can be seen in the National Science Museum of Japan, located in Ueno, Tokyo.

To this day Hachiko remains an enduring symbol of loyalty and love between dog and owner. And if anyone says that animals don't or can't feel emotions (like love) because they're just lowly animals, then I would like you to offer me a plausible explanation as to what poor Hachiko was feeling that kept him there for more than a decade waiting for the man he so painfully never saw again. If that wasn't unconditional love, then I don't know what it was. To have a dog that loves that purely is a gift from the Divine, pure and simple.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Somewhere in my readings I've heard of this poignant story before. It's nice to have it brought to the forefront of my memory.

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