|BEHIND THE FILM "Hachi: A Dog's Tale"||
The Japan America Society along with the InterContinental Los Angeles in Century City hosted a Hachi screening under the stars. Guests enjoyed Japanese bento picnic dinners while viewing the film from two large screens. Of course, dogs were welcome and they had fun too! David Allsberry (Hachi animal trainer) brought Leyla (he adopted her after the film ended) who was a huge hit, as always. Known for her affectionate nature, Leyla kissed her way into everyone's hearts. After the screening, guests lined up for pictures with the friendly dog star. After, Paul Mason (executive producer of Hachi) and I answered questions from the audience. I love sharing my feelings about animals. We gain so much love from them!
A special thank you to Mari Miyoshi, President, Sumitomo Realty and Development U.S.A. and owner of InterContinental Hotel Los Angeles Century City at Beverly Hills for the idyllic setting. Mari enjoyed the evening with us and brought a special guest (shown above) who charmed everybody with those soulful eyes! And we couldn't have done it without Doug Urber, president and Nancy Hiromoto, past chairman of the Japan America Society for their terrific support of "Hachi: A Dog's Tale". The evening was perfection- with the delicious dinner, enthusiastic guests, happy dogs and viewing "Hachi" on that gorgeous patio area. It was one of those perfect nights to remember!
One of Hachi's Special Friends, Sira Sudhindranath, who we call "World Wide Hachi Ambassadors" took a group of 12 families and 17 dogs to visit Hachi's statue at the train depot in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. They call themselves the "I Luv my Coton de Tulear" group.
The Blackstone Valley Tourism Council Members kindly hosted the group who came from California, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire. They were welcomed by Oscar Hancock of American Beauty Signworks of Woonsocket and Donna Houle of the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council.
After seeing "Hachi: A Dog's Tale" in late 2013, Sudhindranath was curious to see which real-world town was chosen to portray the town of "Bedridge" where the film story took place. Using Google and Bing Maps, he located the train depot at Woonsocket and other film locations. Along with help from the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council, he gathered a group of dog-lovers and their dogs to visit the film location.
They walked the Hachi Trail in Woonsocket, which follows movie site locations from the film. The popular trail (www.facebook.com/thehachitrail) was designed by Sudhindranath and the group walked their dogs, learned about the history of Woonsocket, enjoyed lunch at Palace Pizza, followed by hot dogs and coffee milk (the official state drink of coffee syrup and milk) from New York Lunch at Market Square. "The weather was good and we all had a very enjoyable tour of the movie locations, plus some excellent food," said Sudhindranath.
Many Hachi fans have followed the Hachi Trail that was so generously mapped by Hachi's Special Friend. If you have a chance, it's a lovely visit to a charming town with many warm memories of Hachi! Be sure to say hi to Donna Houle at the train depot. She was present during the entire shoot and has many stories.
they always come back home to visit. If ya'all ever do anything here on the East Coast I'm sure we can arrange to get you together with Forrest again. We live VERY close to Ocean City MD a top resort here on the East Coast.
Forrest's really getting up there in age-turned 11 in June. Typically we lose them between 9 and 13 or so. His litter brother Titan is still going very strong also. We showed Titan in Veterans classes not too long ago and he won Best Veteran- so he's still got it too. Sadly we lost Forrest's Mom a couple of years ago. That was one of my hardest losses to date and I still ache and miss her so much.
We just imported a new Japanese Bred Akita from Hungary, he's a real clown and another Hachi clone.
I am so proud of Forrest, this movie has been the shining star of my life. I'll never be able to thank all of you enough for making this happen for us. We've really enjoyed the ride (and still very much do).
I hope all is well with you, and yours. And remember if you ever want an Akita-I'm here!
An Italian girl’s devotion has become part of Japan’s long adoration of its most famous and loyal dog.
Ten year old Stephanie watched “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale,” and began writing a series of notebooks about Hachiko. Stephanie, now 12, and a resident of Bergano in northern Italy, is devoted to keeping the memory of Hachiko alive.
Through online research, she discovered that Kazuto Ueno, 77, a grandson of professor Hidesabuto Ueno lived in Tsu, Mie Prefecture. Stephanie sent messages to the government's Multicultural Affairs Division seeking to connect with the professor's grandson. The letters were translated to Japanese and forwarded to Ueno. Soon after, Ueno and Stephanie began corresponding.
On March 8, the 80th anniversary of Hachiko's passing, a statue featuring Hachiko and his owner Hidesaburo Ueno was unveiled at the University of Tokyo.
After the ceremony, Ueno, the grandson of Hidesaburo, placed a letter with words from three of Stephanie's notebooks: “Dear Hachi, Eighty years have gone by since you were called to heaven to be with your beloved master, but I am sure you are still close to us".
Ueno was so moved by the young Hachi fan's devotion, that he placed similar letters at the Hachiko and Ueno statue in Tsu and the bronze Hachiko statue at Shibuya Station.
“I have read so many things about how special you are: strong and dignified, pure and gentle, peacemaker among dogs. With lots of love," wrote Stephanie in one of her notebook passages.
Stephanie's mother is an avid Hachi fan and always has the latest updates on anything Hachi related. I call her one of "Hachi's Worldwide League of Friends".
She writes, "My daughter and I continue to love him as much as ever and when it came to choosing a subject for her end of school mini-thesis, Stephanie had no doubts at all, it had to be her furry best friend! We managed to contact Dr. Ueno's descendent in Japan and he wrote us some lovely letters."
"One day a journalist from the Asahi Shimbun went to interview him for an article before the 80th memorial anniversary and Mr. Ueno told him all about Stephanie and her love for Hachiko. We were then contacted by this journalist, who wanted to write an article about it all and was kind enough to take a symbolic little letter from Stephanie "to Hachi", and this was placed on the New Statue by Mr. Ueno on the day of the ceremony. He then sent us a photograph of that moment and Stephanie almost cried with happiness!!"
"It is indeed a strange story, and Stephanie is convinced that it is Hachi who is working his magic after so many years as indeed we have met some amazing people through all this and have been impressed by the kindness of Japanese people."
Stephanie and her mother hope to one day visit Japan, and personally say "Hi" to Hachi!
Professor Ueno's grandson wrote to Stephanie, “Hachi kept waiting for his owner, so he must be waiting for you forever.”
It's Official! Hachi and the Professor are reunited on the 80th anniversary of Hachiko's death.
On March 8th, around 500 people attended the unveiling of the bronze memorial celebrating Hachiko and his master Hidesaburo Ueno (1871-1925). The statue is located at the University of Tokyo's Faculty of Agriculture where Ueno taught agricultural engineering. Hachi's story is well documented, but few know that Ueno was a pioneer of Japan's irrigation engineering and rural planning.
Mari Toya, 30, a Nagoya restaurant operator who attended the ceremony said, “They have finally been reunited after 90 years. I am happy for them”.
To create the statue, volunteers including faculty members - studying the relationship between people and animals - collected donations of more than 10 million yen ($83,000).
Hachiko died in 1935, 10 years after Ueno's death.
The video above shows the dedication ceremony. It's in Japanese, but you get the sense of joy surrounding Hachi's reunion.
There's another Hachi statue....
.... in Rhode Island!
It's located in front of the Woonsocket train station- in the same spot where Hachi waited in the film. I just had to see the new statue, and the station looks the same! Even the building (where the bookstore was located) across the street is still intact.
Barbara Dixon, Special Events Coordinator for the Tourism Council, graciously welcomed us to the site. Their administrative office is located inside the depot.
She showed us a beautiful rack (promo) card that was created for the Hachiko destination in Woonsocket. Many visitors from around the world have visited Hachi.
Barbara was on site during our film production, and we shared stories while sitting next to Hachi's statue. Donna recalled plenty of excitement with Richard Gere, the crew, lighting, cameras... and all the gorgeous dogs.
The dedication was attended by the Japanese consulate general and local officials on May 19th, 2012. Hachi fan Michael Sultana and his "Hachiko" attended the ceremony, and reported their experience on my May 24, 2012 blog entry. You can experience that special day at www.hachikousa.com. The Blackstone Valley Tourism Council created this site to increase awareness of the monument and Hachi's story. It's full of info on the filming of "Hachi: A Dog's Tale". Take a peek!
Woonsocket was the perfect place to shoot with the brick station, quaint town and friendly people. You really need to experience the warmth and charm... and of course, see Hachi. He's waiting for you to say "Hi" next!
Hachi fans will be delighted to learn that on March 8th, a new Hachiko statue will be unveiled! The bronze memorial will be erected on the University of Tokyo campus where Hidesaburo Ueno (1871-1925), a professor of agriculture once taught.
The most famous Hachiko statue is at Shibuya Station, and is one of the most popular meeting places in Japan. It depicts Hachiko patiently waiting for his master's return. The original statue was erected in 1934, but was melted down for its much-needed metal during the war. It was replaced in 1948 and still presides over the Shibuya Station entry.
This latest statue, conceived by the Agricultural department of the University of Tokyo, highlights professor Ueno’s accomplishments in agricultural engineering, and depicts the joyful affection between the two friends.
Professor Ueno's advances towards the technology of arable land readjustment and drainage was utilized for the imperial capital revival after the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake of 1923. Ueno died of a cerebral hemorrhage in May 1925 while giving a lecture.
A fundraising effort on the Internet raised about half of the targeted 10 million yen ($99,000) so far, and the group asked Tsutomu Ueda, a sculptor in Nagoya, to create a model for the statue. Ueda, 39, was thrilled about creating Hachiko's sculpture.
“I have loved dogs since I was very young and became familiar with Hachiko through movies and by other means,” said Ueda. “My biggest aim will be to convey a sense of connection between the two.”
“We insisted on a design that depicts the person (Ueno) and his dog looking into each other's eyes and coveys the affection and bond between them,” said Sho Shiozawa, a professor of irrigation drainage and rural engineering at the university. “We hope the statue will become something of a mascot at the university and draw many visitors.”
Overshadowed by the professor's love of Hachiko, many fans are not aware of the scholastic and professional accomplishments of professor Hisaburo Ueno.
This monument will highlight his considerable efforts in the rebuilding of Japan.
Sira reports there's a new book titled, "Animal Stars: Behind the Scenes with your Favorite Animal Actors". Chapter 6 is written by Mark Harden, one of the talented animal trainers of the Hachi actors. Harden describes the details of the role played by each of them. You will learn about the background work in making the young 4-year old Forrest look and "act" like a very old Hachi. Harden shares how he enjoys "the audible gasp from first-time viewers when Forrest, as old Hachi, makes his entrance" in the movie. He says that "Hachi" was one of the best experiences of his career and adds, "I will pass down memories of it to my grandchildren." (Many thanks to "Special Hachi Supporters" such as Sira who continually promote the timeless story of Hachi!)
Sira heard that the train tracks (known as the "Slatersville Secondary") will be removed in the coming years due to maintenance costs (bridges, grade crossings, signaling, etc). Thank you for sharing these images with us!
To view location images below, please click location titles.
1. "Bedridge" Train Station (there is a statue of Hachi in the circle where he waited) :
1 High St., Woonsocket, RI 02895
2. "Bedridge" Train Station (view of track and platform):
3. Downtown (where Parker walks home carrying puppy Hachi):
Arnold St and Main St., Woonsocket, RI 02895
4. Parker and Cate's home:
High St and Walley St., Bristol, RI 02809
5. Andy and Michael's home:
Glen Road, Woonsocket, RI 02895
6. Road down which Hachi runs after escaping from Andy's house:
Glen Road, Woonsocket, RI 02895
7. Milton and Myra's butcher shop:
Arnold St and Sayles St., Woonsocket, RI 02895
8. Train tracks (that Hachi walks on after running away from Andy's home):
Railroad crossing at Harris Ave and Railroad St., Woonsocket, RI 02895
9. Railway Bridge under which Hachi walks (view of the fork in the train tracks):
Blackstone St., Woonsocket, RI 02895
10. Location of stationary train cars (under which Hachi sleeps):
View from Harris Ave.
View from River St.
(You can see the building marked "DOM POLSKI.
In movie, it can be seen in background when Hachi first arrives at the location)
11. Street where Hachi is shown walking from station to Milton & Myra's butcher shop:
12. Downtown (where the 10+ year old Hachi is seen for the first time):
Main St., Woonsocket, RI 02895
LA Eigafest is devoted to showcasing Japanese influenced films to an American audience, promoting emerging filmmakers to Hollywood, and enhancing the relationship between US and Japanese film industries.
As part of the Festival, the Japanese government awarded the "U.S. Japan Content Merit Award" for bringing Japanese content and talent to a mainstream American audience.
Besides being honored for "Hachi: A Dog's Tale", other recipients were Director Guillermo Del Toro (Pacific Rim), Producer Tim Kring (Heroes), Producer Don Murphy
(Transformers) and Chief Content Officer John Lasseter (Toy Story) of Pixar who created the market for Ghibli Films in the US.
The honor was conferred by Jun Niimi, (Consul General of Japan), Kensuke Tomita, (Director-General, Commerce and Information Policy Bureau- Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) and Sachiko Yoshimura (JETRO Los Angeles Chief Executive Director). The formal ceremony took place at the Consul General of Japan's beautiful Los Angeles residence.
The 3rd annual LA Eigafest opened with the premiere of the Clint Eastwood remake "Unforgiven" starring Ken Watanabe and directed by Lee Sang-il.
It’s 1869, and imperial troops hotly pursue renegade samurai, loyal to the Shogun system, who have fled to the northern island of Hokkaido. An impressively choreographed bloodbath unfolds in the snowy forests. The screening was held at the famous Egyptian theater with Mr. Watanabe and Mr. Sang-il answering audience questions after the screening.
It was a fun evening with a delicious buffet reception and lots of avid film fans. The festival is headed by Mr. Hayato Mitsuishi, President of the Japan Film Society. Hayato has boundless energy, a warm smile and is an exuberant advocate for Japan films.
Supporting the festival was Misako Ito, Director of the Japan Foundation Los Angeles. I first met Misako when she coordinated a Hachi screening and reception for the Japanese Ambassador in Washington DC. There's nothing Misako can't find out or do!
The entire weekend was invaluable for aspiring and advanced filmmakers alike. I participated in a business panel on Saturday morning, and learned quite a bit about anime and manga from Jason Hoffs, head of VIZ Productions. The company acquires world-class Japanese intellectual properties and packages them with Hollywood creative talent.
Also on the panel was actor, writer, producer Masi Oka. An Emmy and Golden Globe nominated actor, Masi Oka burst onto the scene in NBC’s series “Heroes” and currently can be seen on the hit series, “Hawaii 5-0.”
Jason and Masi are both consummate professionals, and possess a huge body of knowledge about film and television production. I came into film quite a different way. As I shared that morning- my career started because of a dog in 1930's Japan!
Enjoy "Hachi: A Dog's Tale" under the stars: Meet dog star, trainer, producers - The Riviera Country Club, Los Angeles on September 28th
Outdoor Movie Screening
"HACHI: A Dog's Tale"
Presented by JASSC and
The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles
Saturday, September 28, 2013
5:00pm - Gates open/Dinner
7:00pm - Screening (Depending on sunset)
The Riviera Country Club
1250 Capri Drive, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
(Go to security gate and you will be directed to parking area for event)
Adults - $20 [Includes Maison Akira's Japanese Bento Box*]
Children under 12 - $10 [Includes Panera Kids Box*]
You must reserve and pay for your admission prior to September 20th to guarantee your meals.
Seating is limited, so reserve your tickets in advance:
Japan America Society of Southern California
Vicki Shigekuni Wong
I first spotted Hachiko's statue many years ago at Shibuya Station. Upon returning home, I adopted a dog and named him Hachi. When he passed away, I missed his reflective, welcoming and calm ways. We can all learn from the innate emotional grace of our animal friends and the Way of Hachi. I love sharing the story of the loyal dog of Japan, and hope he inspires more people to "Be Hachi"!