If you’re a Futurama fan you might recognise the name ‘Seymour.’
And if you’re anything like me (a complete sook) you’ll probably know his name from what is arguably the saddest episode, of a cartoon series that’s supposed to be funny, ever – Jurassic Bark.
If you know Seymour’s story you essentially know Hachiko’s story.
Prince of Eight
Hachiko, a Japanese Akita breed, was born on the 10th of November 1935 and adopted by Professor Hidesaburo Ueno who named him for his place in the litter order (Hachi – 8, ko – Prince or Duke).
Professor Ueno worked in the agricultural department of the University of Tokyo and every day when the Professor arrived home from work Hachiko would greet him at Shibuya station.
Hachiko and the Prof. continued their routine for two years until May of 1925 when Hidesaburo Ueno suffered a fatal cerebral haemorrhage while at work.
For the next nine years…nine fricken years…Hachiko waited faithfully in the same spot at exactly the right time for Professor Ueno to return.
Unbelievably, and according to Wikipedia, ‘initial reactions from the people, especially those working at the station, were not necessarily friendly.’ Are you kidding me?! This is the part of Hachiko’s story that I don’t understand and breaks my heart, even more. If I saw a dog waiting for his or her dead owner for like, two weeks, I would think it was the most incredible dog ever and give it snacks on the regular. Just sayin’.
It took Hachiko seven years and a newspaper article to be published in Asahi Shimbun (1932) for the people to come around to him and start giving him treats! Seven. Years.
After the article was published Hachiko, became a national sensation and known as ‘chuken Hachiko’ or ‘faithful dog Hachiko.’
His faithfulness to the Professor impressed the people of Japan. Teachers and parents used his vigil as an example for children to follow and in 1934 a bronze statue of his likeness was unveiled at Shibuya station – Hachiko himself attended the unveiling.
The original statue was later melted down for the war effort but in 1948 a second statue was recommissioned and is the one that still stands at Shibuya station.
Hachiko died on March 8 1935 – his body was found in the streets of Shibuya.
He was later stuffed and mounted and today resides at the Museum of Nature and Science in Ueno, Tokyo.If you want to visit Hachiko he can be found in the Nihonkan Gallery although there is no signage (at least in English) that particularly points him out.
This is what he looks like if you want to keep an eye out for him:
Today Hachiko is considered a national symbol of loyalty, particularly to the person and institution of the Emperor. Every year on April 8th a solemn devotion ceremony is held in remembrance of Hachiko at the Shibuya railroad station.
And Hachiko is not alone – there are many other ‘faithful dogs’ across the world with similar stories. You can read all about them at Wikipedia.
Just make sure to stock some tissues and keep chocolate close at hand!
Until next time,
Kally & Mon.
Visiting the Hachiko Statue
Hachiko’s statue is, predictably, found at the Hachiko Exit on the west side of Shibuya Station and is labeled as such in the train station – The Hachikō Exit – (ハチ公口) – Hachikō-guchi.
If you’re coming by car or taxi or have walked into Shibuya you can find the statue near the scramble crossing that is close to Centre Gai.
Close to the statue is an old train carriage that’s been re-purposed as a tiny gallery devoted to Hachiko and the station.
[Feature Image Credit: Monique Nielsen]
[Image Credit (1-4): Wikipedia]
Can you watch Jurassic Bark without reaching for the tissues?