Why Is a Dog Named Hachiko a Symbol of Loyalty in Japan?

hachiko statue

Dogs might be man’s best friend, but an Akita in Tokyo also proved to be one man’s most loyal commute companion.

Most folks in Japan know the story of Hachiko, the pup who waited at Shibuya Station every day for his owner, university professor Hidesaburo Ueno, to return home – and kept doing so for almost 10 years after Ueno died at work one day in 1932.

Hachiko Akita

Naturally, word of the dog’s unfaltering loyalty spread, and the first statue to Hachiko was erected at the station in 1934 – with Hachiko in attendance. Over the years, many more statues to Hachiko have sprung up in the area, as well as a shrine, decorated manhole covers, and a museum, but it wasn’t until nearly a century had gone by that Ueno and Hachiko were reunited with a memorial statue at the University of Tokyo’s campus.

For the record, the name Hachi (the dog’s original name, until the “ko” was added later in honor) means “8” in Japanese, which is considered a lucky number.

Other deeply loyal pets:

  • In Motagnana, Italy, a cat named Toldo continues to visit the grave of his owner, Renzo Iozzelli, who died at age 71 in 2011.
  • In Scotland, a Skye terrier named Bobby famously refused to leave his owner’s grave after the man’s death in 1858; the dog was helped to live there until his own death in 1872.
  • A German shepherd named Kostya, the only survivor of a 1995 car wreck in Tolyatti, Russia, stayed near the site until his own death seven years later.

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