On November 20, 1923, an Akita puppy was born in Odate, Akita Prefecture, well known for the Akita dog breed. He was born in the barn of a prosperous farmer in the northeastern region of Japan. The puppy’s father was from one of the finest pedigree lines in Odate.In 1924, the puppy was gifted to Ueno Hidesaburo, a professor in the Department of Agriculture of the Imperial University of Tokyo (now The University of Tokyo) by a former student, Mase Chiyomatsu. Mase was head of the Arable Land Cultivation Section of the Akita prefecture.
Mase asked his subordinate, Kurita Reizo, to find an Akita for Ueno. Keizo’s next door neighbor had a litter of four Akita males; Hachi was one of them.Mystery of Hachi’s Real BirthdateMuch debate has been done on the actual date of Hachi’s birth. Some literature list it as the 10th of November, while others go for the 20th of November. Ever since Hachi became the most famous dog in Japan, there have been rumors concerning his birth.
To provide the November 20th birth date, a member of the Research Committee for Historical and Natural Monuments of the Akita Prefecture registered Hachi’s birth at the Odate Township office. The date was based on information from one of the original members of the Society for the Preservation of Akita. However, no pedigree certificates for dogs were issued until the Society for the Preservation of Japanese Dogs was formed in 1928.
It so happened that Kurita Reizo stopped at Shibuya Station on his way to a business meeting on March 9, 1935, when Hachi’s memorial service was being conducted. Kurita’s colleague mentioned that Hachi was from Odate and was raised by their former teacher, Ueno Hidesaburo. That’s when Kurita realized that Hachi was the puppy he had chosen for the professor.Kurita recalled sending the puppy to the professor around January 7 or 8, 1924. He was certain about the puppy’s Tokyo arrival because a big earthquake hit Tokyo the night after he shipped Hachi. It was confirmed that a strong earthquake hit Tokyo at 5:50 AM on January 15, 1924.
To enable them bond with the new owner, Akita puppies were delivered from the breeder before they were two months old. If Hachi left Odate on January 14th, 1924, he was most likely born no more than two months prior.Based on these facts, Hachi’s most accurate birth date is now November 14, 1923.Hachi Meets the ProfessorHachi’s new owner was a respected scholar, and considered the authority of agricultural civil engineering in Japan. Ueno was recognized for extraordinary contributions in his field.
A dog lover, Ueno had sixteen dogs over this lifetime. Yearly, he offered prayers on each of their memorial anniversaries.Hachi was in poor health upon his winter arrival to Tokyo. He slept under Ueno’s western style bed and also wore a covering for six months. Back then, rarely will you find dogs indoors. Hachi became weaker and developed a fever. Ueno and his wife kept his head cool with ice bags and used hot water bags for his body.Hachi’s health improved within the next six months.
When Hachi arrived, Ueno already had two English Pointers named John and Esu. Ueno took Hachi for walks with the other dogs. John and Hachi got along well; however, Esu was aggressive to Hachi. A student kept a daily Hachi journal and reported to Ueno upon his return every day.Ueno took special care of Hachi as he catered to his every need.
He often treated Hachi to a special diet of rice and broth, milk, some liver treats for health, and regular deworming medicine. Ueno brushed his thick coat daily.Hachi would accompany Ueno to Shibuya Station every morning. Every evening, at the same time, he would welcome the professor’s return at the station. Rain or snow.
“Because Dr. Ueno did not have his own child, he loved Hachi as if he were his own child. When we visited his residence he let Hachi stay in the living room, while we were talking,” recalls Maki Takayasu, a former student.
On May 21, 1925, at age 53, Professor Ueno suffered a sudden stroke while at the University and died.Hachiko was sent to live with relatives who lived in Asakusa, in the eastern part of Tokyo.Why didn’t Ueno’s wife keep Hachiko?Ueno and Yaeko were not legally married. Ueno was betrothed to a woman from a prominent family, buthe fell in love with Yaeko. His family disapproved of their union, so Ueno and Yaeko went away to live together.She was known as “Mrs.
Ueno.”When Ueno died, she had no legal rights to the house, so she had to live with an acquaintance. At this point, it was difficult for her to keep a large dog like Hachi, so she sent him to a relative.Hachiko would repeatedly run back to his former house in Shibuya.
Finally, in an effort to keep him from running away, he was given to the professor’s former gardener, Kikusaburo Kobayashi, who had known Hachiko for years. Every morning, Hachi would visit the train station and return each night.Hachi Hits the HeadlinesAlthough Hachi was not a stray, people around the station assumed he was.
His collar would always get stolen. Some employees treated him poorly.Once, station employees painted black framed eyeglasses on Hachi’s face.
A mustache was painted on his face also.Children would sometimes tease or hit him. Some vendors would pour water on Hachi.Hirokichi Saito, one of Ueno’s students, first met Hachi in 1928. He hoped to stop the abuse of Hachi.On October 4, 1932, the Asahi Shimbun published Saito’s story titled “Tale of a Poor Old Dog: Patiently Waiting for Seven Years for the Dead Owner.”Overnight, Hachi’s Legend Spread Throughout JapanShopkeepers and visitors brought him food, and donations were sent to the station master.
Children would come by to pet him.Even a well-known actor, Inoue Masao, befriended Hachi after he saw him sitting at the station. He bought some beef to feed Hachi but departed when a crowd formed.Homeless dogs began to receive special treatments because of Hachiko.Hachi was known for protecting weaker dogs from bullying. He would put his huge body between the dogfight and stand his ground. If this didn’t work, he would bite the abuser.
In 1933, the sculptor, Teru Ando, saw Hachiko for the first time at the station. He had been impressed by Hachi’s proud appearance and composure. Ando took to the gentle dog who seemed to revel in the attention.He decided to make a plaster statue of Hachiko for the Imperial Fine Arts Academy Exhibition. Yae, Professor Ueno’s wife, visited one hot day when Hachi was panting from the heat. Upon seeing Yae, Hachi immediately perked up. As she left, Hachi tried to follow her.
Saito recalled, “I have never found Hachi to be more adorable than at that moment, as long as I observed him. The scene was touching and brought me to tears.”In 1934, a bronze statue was erected in front of the ticket gate of Shibuya Station with a poem engraved on a placard with the title: “Lines to a Loyal Dog.”There were throngs of viewers at the festive unveiling, including the grandchildren of Professor Ueno. Hachiko wore red and white scarves for the event.He would often sit beside his statue looking for the professor. A few locals recall seeing Hachi look up at his likeness.
In 1944, during World War II, Hachi’s statue was melted down to support the war efforts. The sculptor, Teru Ando, was killed during an air raid. In 1948, a replica of Hachi’s bronze statue was sculpted by Takeshi Ando, the son of the original sculptor.Since the war, the Akita breed had been diminishing in numbers, but this public recognition of the breed, some say, saved the Akita from possible extinction.Faithful to the EndAfter all the long years on the street, Hachi lost a lot of weight and he was battle-scarred. One of his ears drooped and he suffered from severe heartworms. By 1935, he became weaker and was no longer able to walk back to the gardener’s home. Hachiko spent most of his day laying on the ground.
On March 7, 1935, a station employee noticed that Hachi was walking into secluded rooms and going into shops where he had been treated kindly. He was last seen asleep on a wooden bed by the baggage room.On the morning of March 8, 1935, a concerned employee noticed that Hachi was gone from his bed. Worried, he searched the area and found Hachi lying on the side of the road.Hachi waited almost ten years for the professor. He died at the age of thirteen.Nation Mourns Loyal DogYaeko came to place flowers and black and white ribbons on Hachi’s statue.
Soon, news about Hachi’s passing spread around the community. The locals believed that Hachi’s late night visits to the shopkeepers were a last remembrance to them.By evening, thousands of people gathered around Hachi’s statue with sweets, flowers, cards, and letters.On March 10, 1935, a small memorial was held next to Hachiko’s shrine by Ueno’s resting place.
His death made front page news and the people of Japan mourned his passing. Schools in Japan often cited Hachiko to their students as an example of loyalty, friendship, and good character.He was buried next to Professor Ueno. In death, they were finally reunited.Ueno Hidesaburo: Integrity and KindnessOne of Ueno’s former students, Maki Takayasu, wrote a biography of Ueno in 1972, honoring the centennial of his birth.Dr. Uneo took care of his students as if they were his own family.
He went out of his way to ensure employment of his students by negotiating high-ranking officials of the government and corporate heads. He made personal visits, all over Japan, to speak with them in person.When Dr.
Ueno suffered from acute suppurative tympanitic, he needed convalescence. Those who worked at the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce chipped in, and purchased a resort house in Hayama for him. However, knowing how little income they made, he refused to accept it. He would only accept using the house.He also refused free invitations from people.
He did not want any obligations or restraints by accepting such hospitality.This is only one of many episodes that indicate his extraordinary integrity as a person.