Friday, 9 November 2012

Happy Birthday to Hachiko.

Did you know that November 10 is the anniversary of the birthday of one of Japan's most famous dogs? I love dogs and I love the story of Hachiko. The interesting thing is that Hachiko is world famous. Almost every Japanese schoolchild knows the story: Hachiko greeted his master, a professor at Tokyo University, every day after work at Shibuya Station in Tokyo. One day, his master died while at work and did not return to Shibuya Station. However, for the next 9 years, the dog would always return to the station to wait for his master's return.

It's an interesting story. It also proves the power of the media. At first, apparently many people didn't like to see a stray dog at the station. They used to do mean things to the dog. However, after an article appeared in the Tokyo newspaper about the story of why the dog would hang out at the station in the evenings, people started to feel differently. In fact, many people would give Hachiko snacks, and they began to treat the dog with respect.

Eventually, Hachiko succumbed to cancer and heartworms (「フィラリア」 in Japanese) and died in 1935. Hachiko received a grand funeral, and eventually a statue was placed in front of Shibuya Station.

Almost 10 years ago when I visited Shibuya Station, I had to find the statue and have my picture taken with Japan's most famous dog. Here I am with my son, Kei, standing next to the statue in the rain. I will never forget this moment. Do you have a picture of yourself in a similar pose?