Everytime I returned to Shibuya Station to see Hachiko, it seemed Hachi souvenirs were practically nonexistent. I couldn't seem to find many except for some cookies, note pads and very few other items. Right before the filming of the "Hachi: A Dog's Tale", I discovered some small metal statues at the Ueno museum that displays Hachi. I was so happy that I bought a dozen. After gifting these to friends during the production, I kept one and it's still displayed prominently so I can see it daily!
I recently toured Asia for three weeks and my first stop was Shibuya Station. Everytime, it's a never ending thrill to see the crowds vying to take pictures with Hachi! There's a small archive of historic Hachi photos in the box car right in front of the statue. The staff are friendly and know most anything about him.
After taking a few photos with Hachi, it started to rain so I headed into the adjacent Tokyu department store. Wandering around to bide time, I found a room dedicated to everything Hachiko. I was completely overwhelmed by Hachi items! Of course, I left with bags of Hachi gifts for all his friends back home. No more door to door hunting for anything dog related. This is the one stop place to shop!
Hachiko will be honored at Abbey Glen Pet Memorial Park, a premier aftercare service facility offering pet burial services to veterinarians and pet owners for over 40 years. The memorial park been selected to receive an exclusive reproduction of the life-size Hachiko and Professor Ueno statue recently unveiled at the University of Tokyo.
The life-size monument will be featured prominently on Abbey Glen's 14-acre cemetery in Lafayette, NJ and unveiled during a dedication ceremony Sunday, October 9th at 12:00pm.
"The meaning behind this statue aligns well with Abbey Glen's mission – to memorialize the unique and valued relationships that exist between man and animal," said Derek Cooke, president of family-owned Abbey Glen. "We're honored to have been selected as the home for what is a true symbol of the human - animal companion bond. We know that all of those wonderful and compassionate people whom we serve will enjoy the statue for years to come," he concluded.
The statue unveiling and dedication will take place on October 9th at 12:00pm, at Abbey Glen Pet Memorial Park, 187 Route 94, Lafayette, NJ, with special presenters Ambassador Reiichiro Takahashi from the Consul General of Japan in New York City, along with Mrs. Yumi McDonald the author of "Reminiscence of Shibuya".
After all these years, Hachiko continues to remind us of the passionate bond with our animal friends!
It's been 55 years since professor Ueno's common law wife passed away, but they were recently joined together in Tokyo's Toyama Reien cemetery. They family's descendants held a ceremony on May 19 to commemorate the event.
Ueno had a bride chosen for him but they never married. He eventually met Yaeko, a tea ceremony instructor and they set up a household in Shibuya Ward but never legally married due to his previous pledge. After Ueno's sudden death at age 53, Yaeko was not allowed to continue living in their home. She moved in with an acquaintance and gave Hachiko to a relative to be cared for.
Many believe that Yaeko had a poor relationship with Hachiko. However, 93-year-old Takeshi Ando, who created the second Hachiko statue at Shibuya Station, denied these claims.
His father, Teru Ando, who produced the first statue of Hachiko, often took the dog into his studio. Hachiko was old and weak and Ando could not capture a good pose.
But when Yaeko arrived to see Hachiko, the dog stood up energetically and ran straight toward Yaeko. According to Takeshi Ando, his father made the statue from Hachiko’s appearance at that moment. “It was wonderful how joyful Hachiko was when he saw Yaeko,” Ando junior said.
In later life, Yaeko told her family members, “I want my remains to be placed in the grave of my beloved Prof. Ueno when I die.” But her wishes were not honored, and she was laid to rest in another cemetery in Tokyo.
In 2013, which marked the 90th anniversary of Hachiko’s birth, Keita Matsui, a curator of the museum, and Prof. Sho Shiozawa of the University of Tokyo, 63, agreed to make Yaeko’s wish come true. Shiozawa heads a study lab established by Ueno, and was president of the Japanese Society of Irrigation, Drainage and Rural Engineering which manages Ueno’s grave.
After obtaining agreement from the descendants of Ueno and Yaeko’s families, and they began efforts to move Yaeko’s remains.
Shiozawa played a leading role with other interested people in negotiations with the Tokyo metropolitan government, which manages the cemetery. The team spent about two years adjusting the burial rights.
The great-grandson of Yaeko, Masami Takahashi, 65, attended the ceremony on May 19. He said: “I was moved to think that love can transcend time. All my family members are glad.”
Matsui, who has studied Hachiko’s life for many years, expressed his deep emotion by saying: “There’s also a shrine for Hachiko near the professor’s grave. The family is reunited for all time, and the story of Hachiko has reached a happy ending like a dream.”
(As reported in the Yomiuri Shimbun, June 10, 2016)
Hachi's regal bronze statue is beloved in Japan, and he has held court outside of Shibuya station for 82 years. He's a major tourist attraction and popular meeting spot for local residents. Redevelopment of the Shibuya station area is scheduled to begin after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but the Hachiko plaza will remain.
Tsuyoshi Kudo, an Odate city official in charge of tourism policy, hopes to temporarily return Hachiko to his original home. Hachiko was born in the city of Odate, population 75,000, but Kudo says, "but we acknowledge the statue is an important property of Shibuya Ward.”
Hachiko's Odate birthplace has its own statue of the dog outside the Odate Station, and plans are to place the two together where they would be a major tourist draw. No official talks have begin so far.
Wherever Hachi visits, his story will inspire visitors with its simple message of loyalty.
Today is November 10, 2015. It's been 92 years since Hachiko came into this world. Hachi's daily walks to the train station have been memorialized numerous times, and his bronze statue is one of the most famous destinations in Japan. Yet his early life, before the professor, is almost unknown.
In 1934, Hachiko's first statue was placed at Shibuya Station. The photo of a relaxed Hachi (above) was taken around that time by the late Isamu Yamamoto, a former bank employee who lived in the Shibuya Ward, Tokyo. Yamamoto's family found the photo and presented it to Ando who sculpted the Hachiko statue we see today. “I have never looked at such a photo that caught the atmosphere of Hachiko’s everyday life at that time so well,” Ando said.
On Hachi's birthday, I think back to the first months of his life. I can imagine a plump squirming puppy playing with his four male siblings in a barn. Hachi was born on a farm in snow country- Odate, Akita prefecture- to a wealthy landlord farmer. At two months old, he was gifted to professor Ueno Hidesaburo from a former student. On January 14, 1924, Hachi was placed in a small tightly-knit straw crate for his journey. Straw crates were heat retaining and also used to carry rice.
Three people walked 12.5 miles to Ōdate Station, carrying Hachi in the midst of a snow storm. Hachi departed Ōdate Station at 3: 20 PM and scheduled to arrive at Ueno Station in Tokyo at 8: 50 AM the next day. In that blizzard, Hachi left his birthplace never to return.
The Ōdate-Ueno route ran through a series of mountain ranges, and included one of the steepest approaches to a pass for trains in Japan. The train climbed up and down mountain peaks and passed through numerous tunnels. The train oscillated wildly and the locomotives gave off thick soot.
It must have been a terrifying experience for the two-month old puppy. He was separated from his mother and siblings, carried outside in a blizzard, and sat in a crate on a bumpy train for 20 hours. On the day of Hachi's arrival, the newspapers reported that Tokyo was hit by a strong earthquake, by a windstorm, and a sandstorm was blowing over the capital city. People thought Hachi was dead when he arrived.
Yet this frightened puppy went on to experience an extraordinary life that would change not only the history of Japanese dogs, and the creation of a new breed called American Akita- but symbolize compassion, undying love and loyalty worldwide.
Happy Birthday Hachi!! We will always remember you...
(Many thanks to Itoh, Mayumi Itoh, "Hachi: The Truth of The Life and Legend of the Most Famous Dog in Japan", Amazon Kindle, 2013. Her book contains carefully documented details, including Hachi's early days detailed above. It's a must read to fully understand the life of Hachiko.)
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!
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!
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"!