Hachi “Behind the Scenes” with Animal Trainer, Mark Harden

If you could peek behind the scenes of the film Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, would you?

Well, now you can with a new book titled, “Animal Stars: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors.” If you head to Chapter 6, it’s written by Mark Harden, one of the talented animal trainers of Hachi: A Dog’s Tale.

In detail, Mark describes the role played by each of the three “Hachi” stars. You’ll learn how he transformed the 4-year old Akita (Forrest) to look and “act” like the aged Hachi at the end of the film. The make-up transformation was incredible alone, but Forrest had to be trained to walk and move like an elderly dog. It was a stellar performance from a True Star!

Mark shares how he enjoys “the audible gasp from first-time viewers when Forrest, as old Hachi, makes his entrance” in the movie. It’s one of the most emotional scenes in the film. A real tear-jerker. Hachi was one of the highlights of Mark’s career and he says, “I will pass down memories of it to my grandchildren.”

Thank YOU for the memories!

Are you interested in the behind-the-scenes animal action? These dog actors went above and beyond, but there’s always was a human behind it all! To learn more...

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Sira Sudhindranath
Sira Sudhindranath
2021 years ago

Thanks for the blog. Page 88 of “Animal Stars” has a nice color picture of Mark Harden, his wife Lori and Chico (whom he adopted after the completion of the movie).
NOTE: The picture seems to be there only in the Kindle (online) edition of the book. The paper version of the book does not have the photo, for some reason.

Sira Sudhindranath
Sira Sudhindranath
2021 years ago

It is really a poignant scene that begins when we see the old Hachi for the first time. His once-gorgeous and shiny coat has now become dull, his tail and ears are down, the passage of time has weighed on him and he is walking slowly. That’s when it really hits us what he has given up, to pursue his vigil and his wait for Parker. The camerawork for the scene is excellent. Hachi is not seen right away; instead, the viewer initially sees him partially hidden behind the fence and as the camera moves away from the fence, Hachi… Read more »

Ronald
Ronald
2021 years ago

Forrest as the old Hachi is really excellent. I love how the dog showed emotion when they crossed path again with the wife after 10 long years. The pain, regret and grief that connects them is felt at that scene alone. I wish the scene could have been longer like they could have shown more time that they are together and not that the wife left the dog again. It seems that Hachi just waited for the wife to return back to the town before he finally died. Hachi welcomed the wife but not the same welcome given to his… Read more »

Sira Sudhindranath
Sira Sudhindranath
2021 years ago
Reply to  Ronald

Yes, in real life, Hachiko was taken care of by the people near Shibuya station. And he also got national recognition. In fact, he was the chief guest at the unveiling of his own statue! That was about a year before he passed on. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNsukeNKpsY In the video, from the 0:36 second mark on, you can see footage of Hachiko himself! The voices are in Japanese so I can’t understand any of it, but someone said in a blog that the boy at 0:45 or so is saying why look at the Hachiko statue when the real Hachiko is right… Read more »

Ronald
Ronald
2021 years ago

Yes. I really love that video. It is nice to see Hachiko happy while waiting.

Ronald
Ronald
2021 years ago

Having watched that video again and again, I realized that Hachi may already know that his master is already dead. He is just doing that to honor his master’s memory. He is still in grief and hoping that his master will come back gain one more time. Also note that the dog also lost his home after the professor’s death since that the widow have to give him up. Hachi is 100 pounds and could not be brought to their new home. Relatives and former gardener of the professor took care of him but Hachi’s life is never the same.… Read more »

Michael S.
Michael S.
2021 years ago
Reply to  Ronald

Ron Further down this blog you state — “I then realized now that it is really two separate days between Cate visited and last day of Hachi. The trees where Hachi stands is the difference.” What is it about the “trees being the difference” that bring you to this conclusion that it was two separate days? I just watched the movie from when Cate arrives in Bedridge to the end and do not see any difference in the trees when Cate sees Hachi waiting for Parker and when Hachi makes the last trip to the station. My interpretation is that… Read more »

Mary M.
Mary M.
2021 years ago

Robert, I completely agree with you! — another 15 minutes is needed for the American film to have closure. I obsessively researched the real story and was relieved to learn that Hachi’s human family visited him regularly and that the second station master gave him a storage room as shelter. This movie inadvertently gives the impression that the surviving Parkers abandoned Hachi, and I would have loved to see Parker’s daughter and son-in-law bring their son to visit Hachi on weekends. The real grandchild(ren) did visit Hachi, and the widow was present at Hachi’s statue ceremony. We would all feel… Read more »

Mary M.
Mary M.
2021 years ago
Reply to  Mary M.

Sorry! I mean Ronald, not Robert!

Sira Sudhindranath
Sira Sudhindranath
6 years ago

Mary, The timeline shown in the movie has a gap of about 8 years. It shows Hachi as a 2-year old or thereabouts when Parker dies and covers a period of about a year or two after that. Then it jumps to 10 years after Parker’s death (by which time Hachi is over 12 years old). There is a lot of room for a “midquel” type of movie that can fill in that 8-year gap without in any way contradicting most or even any of the elements of the plot of the first movie. For instance: Hachi could be adopted… Read more »

Mary M.
Mary M.
2021 years ago

Your new scenes work also and would be great for an expanded mini-series or midquel. The only actor who has aged too much for added scenes played the young grandson. Another child actor could be shown from behind visiting Hachi on weekends and attending Hachi’s statue ceremony. Or visits could simply be discussed in voiceovers with unused long shots of the station. I think audiences are heartsick over imagining Hachi living outside in awful weather for ten years with only one ten year-delayed visit from the widow who probably moved to another state. It seems very cold that the nearby… Read more »

whirlaway
whirlaway
2021 years ago
Reply to  Mary M.

Yes, that is the very same weekend (Dec 28, 2013 to be exact) that I first saw “Hachi” on a local TV station here (KTVU San Francisco, if I remember right). I began researching the movie locations the very next day and you can see the results under “Archives” on this blog (filed under “March 2014”).
Btw, if you are on Facebook, please visit and “Like” this site – https://www.facebook.com/thehachitrail I created the site in an effort to get dog lovers to visit the movie locations for “Hachi” (and also to help the city of Woonsocket get some tourist traffic).

Mary M.
Mary M.
2021 years ago
Reply to  Mary M.

I made another goof! — “Parker” family should be “Wilson” family.

Ronald
Ronald
2021 years ago

I also prefer these scenes. Actually in the real story of Hachi, he lived in the professor’s former gardener. He stays there in the morning and sleeps there in the evening. It is still poignant but not as sad in the movies. You know what, I also realize that Hachi may already know that his master is dead but just comes every afternoon to honor his master’s memory. In the last night of the real Hachi, he is just wandering the streets near the train station to reminisce his happy days and find those people that were kind to him… Read more »

Mary M.
Mary M.
2021 years ago
Reply to  Ronald

That Hachi was named for the number 8, which symbolizes the connection between heaven and earth, is very significant, not only because he died on the eighth day of March, but as suggested in the poignant scene when he finally plays ball with Prof. Wilson at the station, Hachi spiritually sensed that he’d never see the professor alive again. I would like to think that Hachi knew the professor later died, but still preferred the ritual of greeting his master’s train, no matter how many years passed by, because he knew someday the professor’s spirit would return when it was… Read more »

Mary M.
Mary M.
2021 years ago

Thanks, Whirlaway, I visited your Facebook page, “Liked” it and recommended it to a dog-lover friend. Pretty sure my local MNTV-WDCA Channel 20 in Washington, DC aired “Hachi” that last Dec. weekend in 2013. When my Hachi-fan neighbor moved back to California, I gave her my Kmart DVD copy as a going away gift and bought another copy from Safeway for myself. The Hachi-fan checkout clerk gushed over how sad the movie was. So I cheered her up with additional details about the real Hachi. Hope she visited this website!

BruceB
BruceB
2021 years ago

Hello, to all that have commented, this is no reflection on your comments or ideas, but my sentiments. The movie is perfect like it is. I think it is a classic, and was produced exactly right to stir our emotions of being friends, being loyal and caring . As for sequels , I don’t want to see any made, I want my perception of a wonderful , movie and story, remain true, and not diluted by any other adaptations of this movie. The movie differs from the real life Hachi , but I really feel the altered story as portrayed… Read more »

Mary M.
Mary M.
2021 years ago
Reply to  BruceB

You’ve made very good points, and screenwriters have very difficult jobs of anticipating and pleasing the expectations of every viewer. Some viewers will always wish for more scenes, especially since popular movies often do have re-writes, alternative endings, deleted scenes and unused footage because of budget and artistic considerations. This movie focused on the first two years and last day of Hachi’s life, and I hoped the DVD might contain separate extra features like unused scenes of his later years. Sometimes these deleted scenes should be kept out of the official movie, but they are a treat for fans who… Read more »

Sira Sudhindranath
Sira Sudhindranath
2021 years ago
Reply to  Mary M.

Mary, I believe the movie showed two different days towards the end of Hachi’s life, perhaps a few months apart. The reason for me to say so is that when Cate sees the old Hachi getting to the station square at 5pm, it is still daylight. But when Hachi makes his very last trip, it is quite dark at 5pm. So, it is likely the first scene was in early Fall (before the switchover from DST to Standard Time) and the final scene was in winter, after the switchover to Standard Time (the total absence of people in and around… Read more »

Mary M.
Mary M.
2021 years ago
Reply to  Mary M.

Sira, you may be right that Hachi died several weeks after Cate’s visit.

Ronald
Ronald
2021 years ago
Reply to  Mary M.

I then realized now that it is really two separate days between Cate visited and last day of Hachi. The trees where Hachi stands is the difference. Maybe the scene that Cate normally visits the train station is only up for our subplot. Not really showing it to the audience but for us to wonder.

Sira Sudhindranath
Sira Sudhindranath
2021 years ago
Reply to  BruceB

BruceB, I understand your sentiments. I completely agree that the movie is wonderful as it is. But I won’t be averse to seeing a “Collector’s Edition” or a “Director’s Cut” with additional scenes showing Parker and Hachi together (remember the final flashback scene of them running by the lake/river was never shown in the earlier part? I think there are more such scenes that were left on the cutting room floor). And if there are a few more scenes of Forrest, that would be nice too. But what I would like to see most is (and I think this can… Read more »

Mary M.
Mary M.
2021 years ago

Your suggestion works well also.
Another detail I noticed that could be worked into phone call voice overs: the metal water bowl given to Hachi at the station is the same water bowl that Andy gave to him in her backyard. This suggests that Andy did visit Hachi after she set him free. She had to visit the station afterwards to drop off Hachi’s belongings. She and Carl could chat in voice overs about regular weekend visits. Most of us are wishing that there was more showing of family contact with Hachi over the next ten years.

Sira Sudhindranath
Sira Sudhindranath
2021 years ago

Mary, that could work, provided the plot can explain how Andy kept in touch with Hachi but her mother Cate had no idea that he had continued to wait for Parker. It is possible to do it, though. I think most people wish that the Hachi in the movie was taken care of by somebody who became his guardian after Parker’s death, and not necessarily by someone in the Wilson family.

Mary M.
Mary M.
2021 years ago

Exactly, Sira! — Cate’s reaction to Hachi suggested that she had no idea that he was still waiting for her husband after all those years, and this completely broke my heart! You would think that Andy and station regulars would have kept her informed. I wondered how Cate’s reaction and dialogue could be kept in tact while adding earlier scenes of regular visits by Andy, if not once a year visits by Cate herself. It occurred to me that if a statue dedication was inserted, Carl or a veterinarian could inform Cate that ailing Hachi wasn’t expected to still be… Read more »

Ronald
Ronald
2021 years ago

I thought of this one alternative scene in the story where Cate’s visit to the town is only 7 years and not 10 years after. Cate is really depressed by her husband’s death that it took her 10 years to visit the town again. Maybe she really isolated herself from Parker’s memory to move on. Anyway, here is the flow of the story I am thinking. 1. The classroom scene where Ronnie says Hachiko is his hero is still there but it will start on how his grandmother told about Hachi and Parker’s story. 2. Then Ronnie at 8 years… Read more »

Sira Sudhindranath
Sira Sudhindranath
2021 years ago

The change I suggested was only from the point of view of correcting what I regarded as an inconsistency in the plot. In one scene, Cate is shown getting really emotional about seeing Hachi still waiting for Parker. And in the very next scene, Cate is talking fondly about Hachi to her grandson Ron while Hachi still continues to sleep under the abandoned railroad cars and pursue his daily routine. The juxtaposition of these makes the plot a little hard to believe. That is why I suggested the extra “in between” scene of Cate planning a visit to Bedridge in… Read more »

Ronald
Ronald
2021 years ago

In the scene that Cate shows picture of Hachi to Ronnie, there is a line that Cate tells “I remember, I was there that day” or something like that. Seems like that there were cut scenes there that Cate visits Andy, Michael and Ronnie and there she sees Hachi before running away.

Mary M.
Mary M.
2021 years ago
Reply to  Ronald

Maybe Cate briefly lived with Andy, Michael, Ronnie and Hachi before she officially relocated. Since she had some kind of art/architecture restoration expertise, she probably got restoration work in another state. She also wasn’t a dog person like her daughter, so of course, Hachi was better off with Andi. Perhaps a lot of information was lost about the real Hachi because of WWII. Also, the language barrier made researching difficult. My own research indicated that a lot of Japanese fiction was written about Hachi, which could be mistaken as fact by foreigners. Anyway, I read that the real Hachi was… Read more »

Sira Sudhindranath
Sira Sudhindranath
2021 years ago

Hachi was named for the number 8. And when I was devising a route through all the major movie locations of the “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale” in Woonsocket, this is the shape it turned out to have!
https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zfwXOhhSegqk.k1cvdtDJJBCk&msa=0
It is very fitting and poignant that the route turned out in the shape of the number 8.

Ellen S
Ellen S
2021 years ago

I know it has been over a year anyone has posted comments on this blog, but I feel compelled to post something myself regarding this movie. It has affected me in such a way that I really can’t explain. I began searching for every bit of information I could find about the real life Hachiko who lived in Japan. In turn, I was curious as to how this movie had affected other people and discovered this blog and have also read many comments regarding the movie, some good, some bad. In fact, I replied to a comment on Amazon that… Read more »

Mary M.
Mary M.
2021 years ago
Reply to  Ellen S

The problem with two hour movies is that they can’t show all the details that audiences wish had been included for emotional closure and clarity. Like you and others here, I researched the real Hachi and wish the Wilson family was shown regularly visiting Hachi as his real family had. Also, Carl should have been shown sneaking Hachi into a warm storage room at night as did the original station master. What saddens viewers is the impression that Hachi lived totally outside in terrible winters for 10 years, and that the Wilsons forgot about him. This is why I wish… Read more »

Vicki
Vicki
2021 years ago
Reply to  Ellen S

Hi Ellen,
We always enjoy learning new details about Hachiko. Thank you for your continued interest in his life, and we hope viewers continue to appreciate and spread his story!
Best, Vicki

Sira Sudhindranath
Sira Sudhindranath
2021 years ago
Reply to  Ellen S

Hi Ellen, Nice to hear from you. I had lost track of that Amazon thread where I asked about the time on the station clock. I was able to finally get to read it today after doing a Google search! So, I would like to tell you that your reply was read by me! I agree with the timeline issues that you raised. I would say that Cate saw the old Hachi before Halloween, which explains why there was light at 5pm, and Hachi passed away on Christmas Eve, which is why it is quite dark by 5pm and also… Read more »

Vicki
Vicki
2021 years ago

Hello Mary,
It’s challenging to fit all interesting details into the constraints of one film. Editing is necessary for space and pace. Many viewers have asked about another film that adds background detail to the current one… We’re pleased you were touched by his life!
Best, Vicki

Michael S
Michael S
2021 years ago

Ron In your February 21, 2015 post you state — “I then realized now that it is really two separate days between Cate visited and last day of Hachi. The trees where Hachi stands is the difference.” What is it about the “trees being the difference” that bring you to this conclusion that it was two separate days? I just watched the movie from when Cate arrives in Bedridge to the end and do not see any difference in the trees when Cate sees Hachi waiting for Parker and when Hachi makes the last trip to the station. My interpretation… Read more »

Judi
Judi
2021 years ago

Hi,
I just thought of something and wondered if it is a possibility. If Parker died months before Christmas and Cate visited his grave ten years later then it was not Christmas when she saw Hachi at the train station. So it was a different time between that day and the last day for Hachi to visit the train station . What does everyone think ?

Ellen S
Ellen S
2021 years ago

Judi, When Cate is at the cemetery ten years later and sees Ken, it seems we are led to believe that the time of their visit coincides with the anniversary of Parker’s death since they see each other there surprisingly at the same time. In the very next scene when Cate is walking with Ken across from the station and is stunned to see Hachi still waiting, you can clearly see that it is Christmastime as there are wreaths on the doors and windows of the station. After she waits with Hachi for the next five o’clock train, in the… Read more »

Chris
Chris
2021 years ago
Reply to  Ellen S

Late to this discussion but noticed the U.S. film paper’s seven years headline as well. I believe the filmmakers may have done that as a tribute to the actual newspaper article from Japan when Hachi was waiting seven years at the time of publish. Apparently the real Hachi wasn’t treated well at the station until that came out. Detail here about halfway down the page- https://yumig.wordpress.com/2016/03/20/hachi-the-faithful-dog-part-1/

Judi
Judi
2021 years ago

Hi,
I think you are correct. I think I wanted it to be months later that Cate saw Hachi because she seemed so happy and having such fun when she
just saw Hachi old and still waiting at the station.It is like she was not a bit sad for hachi. I would have been very sad the whole day after such a traumatic meeting with Hachi.

Sira Sudhindranath
Sira Sudhindranath
2021 years ago
Reply to  Judi

Judi, I tend to agree with you. If the Cate visit and Hachi’s death happened on the same day, then it must mean that Hachi was going back and forth from the station many times. I think that was not true even in the real Hachi’s life. He is said to have been going to station every day at 5pm and waiting there until the last train arrives (perhaps 9pm to 10pm) before going back to his “home”. Therefore, I believe that Cate’s visit happened before November 2 (the day daylight saving time ended – as it shows the station… Read more »

Chris
Chris
2021 years ago
Reply to  Judi

One thing I haven’t seen mentioned is the clothing Cate was wearing during her Bedridge visit was not the same as what she wore for Christmas with Ronnie. I’m going with the theory her Bedridge visit was an earlier day than her visit to Ronnie’s which would also explain her difference in emotions. I agree with the other posts that Cate’s visit to Ronnie and Andy’s was the same time as Hachi’s last trip to the station.

Judi
Judi
2021 years ago

Hi Sira,
I like the way you tied up the ending. I can feel better about Cate being really happy to visit her daughter and grandson because enough time had passed for her to deal with the sadness.I think she did not know that at the time of her visit was also the night hachi went to the train station for the last time. That is why they panned from the snow falling at Andy’s and the snow falling at the train station.

Connell
Connell
2021 years ago
Reply to  Judi

Yearning is one of our souls’ most secret places. Maybe, it’s our most basic one. Reverencing love with acts of loyalty & gratitude comprise our integrity, our oneness with Creation & Creator. So glad to say this story is my core. When I respond, my answering emotions come from my deepest energy. On a different note, would anyone be able to please tell me what the words are that Ken says over Parker at his funeral? Thanks in advance.

Sira Sudhindranath
Sira Sudhindranath
2021 years ago
Reply to  Connell

“I’ve said that the soul is not more than the body. And I have said, that the body is not more than the soul. And nothing, not God is greater to one than one self is. I hear, behold God in every object that understand God not in the least. Nor do I understand who’s there can be more wonderful than myself. In the faces of men and women, I see God and in my own face in a glance. I find letters from God dropped in the street and everyone signed by God’s name. But I leave them where… Read more »

Judi
Judi
2021 years ago

Hi,
I am heartbroken that Netflix is removing the Hachi movie from the list of movies to watch as of Sept.1,2016.How sad!!!!

Chris
Chris
2021 years ago

The book mentions there was a director prior to Lasse who wanted an old dog for the scenes young (4 years old) Forrest performed with makeup and training. The trainers refused which was backed by Lasse when he took over. Who was the previous director?

Chris
Chris
2021 years ago

The Call newspaper seems to be hard to pin down for dates. The page with “Hachi waits seven years” is dated Feb 26, 1999 in the top left corner which would be closer to a year (not seven) from Parker’s death. However, the opposite page has mention of Sen. Barack Obama, Mike Huckabee and the 2008 presidential campaign along with an ad for a 2007 Ford Fusion. This was actual news mid-Feb 2008 around the time the scenes were filed at the station. That would be 10 years after Parker’s death.

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