If you left one day and didn't come back, how long would your best friend wait on you? A day, a month? How about 10 years?
Hachiko was an extraordinary Akita owned by Eizaburo Ueno, a agriculture professor at the University of Tokyo in the early 1920's. Every morning, the professor would walk to Shibuya station to catch his train. The loyal Hachiko would accompany him, and every afternoon, Hachiko was at the station just before three o'clock to greet his master.
The pair continued this daily routine for only a year, until May of 1925, when the professor suffered a fatal stroke at the university.
Three o'clock came and as usual the ever loyal Hachiko was there waiting to greet his loving master in their daily reunion. The train arrived at the station, but this time there was no professor...
The professor, of course, never returned and Hachiko was given away after his master's death. The devoted Hachiko would continually escape to return to his former home. Eventually, he came to realize the professor was no longer living there, so he returned to look for his master at the train station where he had waited to meet him so many times before.
Hachiko frequented the station daily, and he attracted the attention of many commuters. Those that noticed would bring food to help support him through his wait. This wait continued for over ten years with Hachiko appearing only in the afternoon, precisely around the time the train was due at the station. But day after day there was no professor. Hachiko's vigil continued until his death in March of 1935.
One day, by chance, a former student of the professor saw the dog at the station and learned the history of Hachiko's life. Soon after learning about the exceedingly loyal Hachiko, he published a story about his unyielding loyalty. The article ran in Tokyo's largest newspaper, and Hachiko became a national celebrity. This is when Hachi earned the honorific ko. This honorific addition to a name is sometimes used for pets, and a great Japanese pun is to name a tri-colored cat Cally, which then becomes Cally-ko, that is calico.
Hachiko's faithfulness to his master's memory impressed the people of Japan so much that a great statue was made as a permanent reminder of his devotion and love.
Several great books have been written about this ever-faithful Akita. Hachiko Waits written by Lesléa Newman is a short novel for for young adults between the ages of 9 and 12. The author creates for Hachiko a young fictional friend named Yasuo, who over the span of ten years helps provide the dog with food and water. He later proposes to his future wife under the bronze statue of his canine friend. This story is very well written and wonderful learning experiences for children and young adults.
The story of Hachiko teaches us to never give up. His undying devotion teaches us to love truly love something besides ourselves which is a dying trait these days, but most of all the story of Hachiko teaches us the true meaning of friendship…
How long would your best friend wait for you?