The Faithful Dog

Famous in Japan, the Hachikõ story is a tale of true connection and love that has continued to melt the hearts of people all over the world for almost a century

It begins with a professor at Tokyo University: Eizaburo Ueno, who adopted an Akita puppy named Hachikõ from a farm in 1923. The two quickly became the best of friends, with Ueno treating the dog as kindly as you would a child.

The two fell into a daily routine: Ueno and Hachikõ would walk together to the Shibuya train station, where Ueno would pet Hachikõ goodbye before getting on the train to work. Hachikõ – or Hatchi, as Ueno nicknamed him – would spend the day waiting for Ueno to come back, in order to greet him at the station. In the meantime, local shopkeepers and station workers would keep an eye on the dog, giving him treats and petting him, while he held his vigil for Ueno.

This routine continued for two wonderful years until, on 21 May 1925, Ueno never came home. Tragically, he had suffered a brain haemorrhage at work and died. Of course, Hachi was not to know this. And so the loyal dog continued to wait for his owner’s return.

Hachikõ moved in with a former gardener for the Ueno family. But throughout the rest of his ten-year life, he kept going to the Shibuya train station every morning and afternoon, precisely when the train was due to enter the station. He sat there for hours, patiently waiting in vain for the return of his beloved owner, who sadly never came back.

In 1932, a major Japanese newspaper published his remarkable story. It turned Hachikõ into a celebrity all over Japan and earned him the nickname ‘Chuken – Hachikõ’, which means ‘Hachikõ – the faithful dog’.

The story of the loyal dog that never gave up hope soon gained a lot of attention, inspiring people from all over the world to visit Hachikõ at Shibuya train station to offer him treats. He touched the hearts of the Japanese people and soon became their hero.

In 1934, a statue of Hachikõ was unveiled at a grand ceremony in front of the station, with the dog himself present as the guest of honour.

After he died, Hachikõ’s body was taken to the station’s baggage room, a place where he had spent much time. He was photographed with Ueno’s wife Yaeko, as well as staff members at the station.

Although Hachikõ’s life ended decades ago, his story of enduring faith and love continues to live on. Today there are several books, films and monuments, all inspired by the beautiful, unshakeable bond between a man and his dog.