The people of Shibuya have an expression, “Wait for me at the Hachi.” It simply means that they’ll wait by an exit of a train station, where a giant bronze statue of a dog stands. That dog’s name is Hachiko.
Among the Japanese, the faithful dog Hachiko is an endearing symbol of loyalty and friendship. His owner, Hidesaburo Ueno, was a professor at the Imperial University in Japan, and brought the dog home. A special bond developed between Hachiko and his master; every day, Hachiko accompanied his friend to the Shibuya train station, and waited for him there as he came home. Passers-by were really touched by the friendship between Hachiko and Professor Ueno. There wasn’t a day that Hachiko missed accompanying and meeting Professor Ueno at the train station.
One day, in May 1925, Professor Ueno died at work, without returning home. There was Hachiko at the train station, waiting for his friend. Yet the trains passed by, and still no sign of Professor Ueno. Hachikofinally realized his friend was not coming, but he kept waiting at that exact time, at that exact spot at the train station, for the next 10 years.
People warmed up to Hachiko, but in days where animal psychology and common sense prevailed, some people were sceptical. Some people thought it was just a stimulus to the food and treats given to him by the vendors and sympathetic passers-by. Some people thought that the dog was just responding to conditioned behaviour. Yet how would you explain that kind of faith, or that kind of scepticism, to a dog who just stood at the platform, waiting for his friend to come home?
A whole decade of waiting. Hachikoescaped from the house-gates of his new owners to wait for Professor Ueno. Days, weeks, seasons, and years passed. The grand dog turned into a shivering mess of matted fur, his ears droopy, his body skin and bones from lack of nourishment, the weather, and for the time passed waiting for his friend. Worms started eating at his stomach, his skin, and in a poetic irony known only to animal experts, worms started eating at his heart. The loyal dog who waited for his master died in his sleep, at the very same path he walked home with his friend.
The heartwarming – and heartbreaking – story of Professor Ueno and Hachiko is a telling reminder of faith. Not of religious ones or spiritual ones, but things we often take for granted. Things like friendship, romance, family, and everything else that has to do with our relationships with people. We always think of dogs as “lesser creatures,” but it seems that, at least in the charming story of Hachiko, they’re capable of a lot more loyalty than we are. We shift, if only because we are capable of doing it. We are more than capable of losing trust, of dropping friendships, of messing around with relationships we forge, and we do it simply because it “makes our lives better.” Not to dogs, though. They stay loyal, steadfast, and faithful.
In many human senses, that’s a fault, but what makes this so heart-wrenching for me was for Hachiko to know his friend died a long time ago, yet he still kept waiting by that same spot in the same station. Had dogs been given the same judgment as humans those things would have been kept as matters of the heart, but not to dogs. Some of us even purposefully forget those friendships “just because,” with too much emphasis on the art of letting go, but not much for holding on.
Maybe it has something to do with stimuli and Pavlovian responses to food, but I’m more inclined to believe the fantasy or the ideal; that Hachiko waited for his friend so that they can go home. If parting is such sweet sorrow and togetherness is such joy, I think that waiting is the most important moment of all.
A poem for Hachiko... (Wait for Me at the) Hachi The leaves fall in autumn, and turn to snow on my feetThe fresh spring breeze gives way to the cheer of summer sun.Things around me change, but as I lay downI’m waiting for you here again. The first train passes by, and the doors open;I wait for you to step out of one of the coaches.With a spring in our steps, we make the long journey home. The shadows loom, and fade to the darkness of the nightThe crowded platforms now silent, bathed in the glow of lamps.Someone passes by, and asks me why I’m still waitingBut tomorrow, I’ll be back here again.
Another train passes by, and the doors open;I wait for you to step out of one of the coaches.I get up to my feet, and make my long journey home. Minutes turn to hours, days to weeks and monthsAnd Time counts loyalty in the fathoms of yearsA bond – tethered – like Earth is to HeavenI’ll wait for you right here, again. The last train passes by, and the doors open;I wait for you to step out of one of the coaches.With faltering steps, I make my long journey home. The faces turn familiar, my sense of smell betrays meI look out the distance with my failing eyes for the last train.A decade has passed, and I’ll keep waitingUntil we’ll walk home together again. Source: http://marouncensored.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/the-heartwarming-and-heartbreaking-story-of-hachiko/
Hachikodied on March 8, 1935. He died at the same spot where his owner found him. His stuffed and mounted remains are kept at the National Science Museum of Japan in Ueno, Tokyo.
In April 1934, a bronze statue in his likeness was erected at Shibuya Station, and Hachiko himself was present at its unveiling. The statue was recycled for the war effort during World War II. In 1948 The Society for Recreating the Hachiko Statue commissioned Takeshi Ando, son of the original artist who had since died, to make a second statue. The new statue, which was erected in August 1948, still stands and is an extremely popular meeting spot. The station entrance near this statue is named "Hachiko-guchi", meaning "The Hachiko Exit", and is one of Shibuya Station's five exits.
A similar statue stands in Hachiko'shometown, in front of OdateStation. In 2004, a new statue of Hachikowas erected on the original stone pedestal from Shibuya in front of the Akita Dog Museum in Odate. Each year on March 8, Hachiko'sdevotion is honored with a solemn ceremony of remembrance at Tokyo's Shibuya railroad station. Hundreds of dog lovers often turn out to honor his memory and loyalty
Hachiko: A Dog's Story, released in August 2009, is an American movie starring actor Richard Gere, directed by Lasse Hallström, about Hachikoand his relationship with the professor. The movie was filmed in Rhode Island, and also featured Joan Allen and Jason Alexander. Three adult Akitas - Chico, Layla, and Forrest - played the role of Hachiko, depicting different parts of the dog’s life. The movie also stars Joan Allen, Sarah Roemer, Erick Avari, and Jason Alexander.From what is known, the movie will closely follow the true story of Hachiko and his owner, even though the new movie is set in modern day America, instead of 1924 Japan.