Hachiko is an extremely captivating story of the unbelievable devotion of a dog to his beloved master. It is a film that one won’t forget once he had watched it.
The story starts with a class discussion about their own personal heroes. Ronnie talks about Hachiko, his grandfather Parker Wilson’s dog. He then narrates how his grandfather got hold of Hachiko and why he considers him as his personal hero.
Hachiko is an Akita born puppy who was shipped to the United States from a Japanese Monastery. On the way to his destination, the address where he was to go was lost and the wooden crate in which he was being transported falls off and breaks open. Naturally the puppy got out of the crate and walks around the train station. He then stop right in front of Parker Wilson (Richard Gere) who was on his way home after teaching at a university and has just disembarked from the train.
After the station manager told him that he has no place to keep the dog and he will just give it to the dog pound if ever there was no one who would claim him in the morning, Parker took the puppy home. His wife Cate (Joan Allen) doesn’t really like to have dogs in the house, so Parker tells her that he will send it back to the station in the morning and won’t keep him. The next day, Parker found out at the train station that no one was looking for the lost puppy and takes the dog to the university. Later on he learned through his Japanese professor friend that the dog is an Akita and the one word written on his tag is pronounced as Hachi which means 8, the number indicating his birth order. Parker took the puppy back home again since dog pounds are already full and cannot accommodate him anymore. Soon the professor and the dog became very close to one another as they do things together like watching TV and playing in the backyard. Cate finally relented to the dog staying with them when she saw how close the two have become.
As Hachi grows up, he became more attached and devoted to the professor that he would always send him every day to the train station where he rides for work. The dog goes home only when the Parker tells him to do so. Then at the end of day, when he hears the whistle of the incoming train, Hachi would run back to the station and sit just outside the station doors waiting for the professor to return and then they walk home. Whatever the season is, whether it is warm or cold, or even with heavy with snow, Hachi is sure to fetch his master at the station. Other people, including the vendor who sells hotdogs and coffee near the train station and the station master, have noticed and admired this every day ritual of the professor and his dog. Other business owners around the area appreciate it too.
Then one day, while the professor was getting ready for work, Hachi barked and barked and seemed to be restless and doesn’t want to send the professor to the train station. So the professor went on, but Hachi also followed him with a ball in his mouth. He played fetch the ball with the professor at the train station which made the professor happy since it is the first time that he gets to play the game with Hachi knowing what to do with the ball. Then when the time came for the professor to embark the train, Hachi barked and barked again. It seems that Hachi had a premonition of what will happen to his master because the professor never came back home. While he was teaching a music class at the university, he suffered a fatal heart attack and died right away. Hachi was not aware of this as he takes his usual place at the station. With the professor gone, his daughter Andy (Sarah Roemer) and her family tried to take care of Hachi, but the dog keeps on returning to the station to wait for the professor. In the end, the Andy decided to allow Hachi to do what he wishes when she saw that he was sad and missed the professor very much. Years have passed and Hachi, who is now a very old dog, still waits at the train station every day until his very last which was a cold and snowy night. His loyalty was praised in the local newspapers and travelers who would see him sometimes calls out his name.
The part which for me, is the most touching scene in this film is the part where Parker Wilson’s wife Cate who, after Parker’s death had moved to another place, came back to visit his grave and saw at the train station that Hachi was still there waiting for the professor. Another one is the scene where Hachi is lying on the station, dreaming about his past life with his master, and the professor coming up to him. It’s like Hachi seeing the return of his deceased master and that they are both united again in the afterlife. He was found dead in the morning.
Hachi is Real
Hachi is real and was born in Odate, Japan, in 1923, and had lived with a Tokyo University professor. Every day, Hachi would tag along with the professor to the train station where he left for work; then the dog would come back at the end of the day to meet him. But one day the professor suffered a stroke while teaching and died. For the following years, Hachi would go back every day at dusk to the Shibuya train station where he last saw his master.
Now there is a bronze statue of the dog Hachi which sits in the place where he waited every day is shown at the last part of the movie, before the credits roll. Japanese children have been told of his story over and over to instill in them the value of being loyal to the memory of a loved one and as an example of loyalty.