A friend of mine just got an Akita puppy from one of his friends giving them away. But after only one day, he’s thinking of finding the puppy another owner because he doesn’t know if he has the time or commitment.
His situation reminded me of this story of Japan’s most faithful dog and his statue, and yes, I forwarded him the story.
Loyalty, faithfulness and unconditional love are qualities that have earned dogs the title of “man’s best friend”. One particular Akita dog took these qualities to such an extreme, he has earned a place in the hearts of all Japanese people, and has kept that place for over sixty years!
Nestled amid hoards of harried commuters, a variety of shops and department stores, and a giant television screen that covers half a skyscraper, a life sized bronze statue of a dog can be found at Tokyo’s busy Shibuya Train Station. Despite the diminutive size of the statue in comparison to the massive neon flash of the city, it isn’t difficult to find. Millions of Tokyoites have been meeting at the landmark since 1934 and continue to do so today.
Chu-ken Hachiko (lit. the faithful dog Hachiko) was born in Akita in 1923 and was first brought to Tokyo in 1924. He and his owner, Mr. Eisaburo Uyeno, were inseparable friends right from the start. Each day “Hachi” would accompany Eisaburo, a professor at the Imperial University, to the train station when he left for work. Upon returning, the professor would find the dog patiently waiting, tail wagging. This happy routine continued until one fateful day in 1925, when the professor was taken ill on the job and unfortunately died before he could return home.
Despite the fact that Hachiko was less than two years old at the time, the bond between dog and owner was strong. Hachiko continued to wait each day at Shibuya station for a friend who was never coming back. At times, he wouldn’t return home for days at a stretch.
The Akita became a familiar sight to commuters as he kept his vigil for over ten years. On March 8, 1935, Hachiko finally went to meet his master. He died on the very same spot he last saw his friend alive.