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....
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!