The Story of Hachikō the Dog


Hachikō in his later years taken before March 8, 1935 | Public domain | via Wikimedia


Last known photo of Hachiko’s death along with his owners wife Yaeko Ueno (front row, second from right) and station staff in mourning in Tokyo on March 8, 1935 by Yoshizo Ozawa | Public domain | via Wikimedia Commons

Hachikō was an Akita dog that belonged to Professor Ueno who worked at the University in Tokyo. Hachikō was a very faithful dog and kept a look out for his owner. He saw him out of the house from the front door and greeted him at the local station at the end of the day. This routine continued throughout their lives until May 1925, when Professor Ueno did not return on the usual train one evening. The professor had suffered from a cerebral haemorrhage at the university that day. He died and never returned to the train station where the dog was waiting.

After his master’s death, Hachikō was given away to another family, but he kept on escaping, showing up again and again at his old home. Eventually, Hachikō must have realised that Professor Ueno no longer lived at the house. So he went to look for his master at the train station where he had accompanied him so many times before. Each day, Hachikō waited for Professor Ueno to return. And each day of course his friend did not appear among the other commuters at the station.

Many people learnt to keep an eye out for him. Many of the people who travelled to and from the station had seen them together each day. They subsequently brought Hachikō treats and food to nourish him during his wait. This continued for nine years with Hachikō appearing at the exact time when the train was due to arrive.

In that very same year, one of Ueno’s faithful students (who had become something of an expert on the Akita breed) saw the dog at the station and followed him back to where he was living, the home of the former gardener of Professor Ueno — Kikuzaboro Kobayashi.  Once there he learned the story of Hachikō’s life. Shortly after this meeting, the student published a document all about Akita dogs in Japan. His research found only 30 purebred Akitas remaining, including Hachikō from Shibuya Station.

Professor Ueno’s former student returned frequently to visit the dog and over the years published several articles about Hachiko’s remarkable loyalty. In 1932 one of these articles, published in Tokyo’s largest newspaper, made the dog very well known. Hachiko became a national sensation. His faithfulness to his master’s memory impressed the people of Japan as a spirit of family loyalty all should strive to achieve. Many people used Hachiko‘s story as an example for children to follow. A well-known Japanese artist produced a sculpture of the dog, and throughout the country a new awareness of the Akita breed grew.

Hachiko died on March 8, 1935. He was found on a street in Shibuya. His heart was infected with filarial worms and 3-4 yakitori sticks (a Japanese dish of chicken pieces) were found in his stomach. His stuffed and mounted remains are kept at the National Science Museum of Japan in Ueno, Tokyo. His legendary faithfulness has become a national symbol of loyalty.

About the Author: Carole Langman works behind the scenes at Bowerland Cottage Holidays and Devon Dogs as the Business Manager. Her office is always a hive of activity, and with the vast amounts of work Carole has, we never really know how she gets through it all! To unwind, she loves gardening, hikes around Bowerland, travelling and writing.

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