When I ask people what they want to see when they are in Tokyo the answers are pretty similar:
Tokyo Tower, Akihabara, Roppongi, TokyoSkytree, Shibuya and the Hachiko Statue, just to name some of them.
Over the years this corner became quite famous, but do you actually know the story behind this statue?
Hachiko (hachi=eight; kō=prince/duke) was born in 1923 near the Ōdate in Akita Prefecture. One year later, professor Hidesaburō Ueno adopted him as a pet and brought him to Tokyo.
Everyday when Ueno went to the university, Hachiko used to walk with him to Shibuya station and then wait there for his return.
One day in 1925, Ueno did not come back, he died from a cerebral hemorrhage during class, but Hachiko kept waiting.
For nearly ten years he would come to the station and wait at the same spot for the return of his master.
At first people were bothered, especially the station staff, but one of Ueno's students found out that Hachiko is one out of 30 purebred Akitas and he wrote several articles about him and his faithfulness.
Suddenly the dog reached international famedom and became a symbol of loyalty.
In 1934 the statue of Hachiko was presented and the dog himself took part in the ceremony. A similar one can also be found in front of Ōdate Station.
Hachiko was found dead in the streets of Shibuya on March 8, 1935. Many people mourned his death and he was given a monument right next to Ueno's grave in Aoyama cemetery.
During World War II the statue had been destroyed, but it was rebuilt in 1948 and became a very popular meeting spot.
Bronze paw prints mark the exact spot where Hachiko was waiting. Today anyone can visit the National Museum of Nature and Science in Ueno where the stuffed Hachiko is exhibited.
What remains today is the unconditional loyalty of one dog for his master. People still use this story as inspiration, lots of books have been written and 2 movies have been made. (Hachikō Monogatari and Hachi:A dog's tale)
Whenever I walk past this small statue I always remember what's story is behind it. It is more than a simple statue, it's a sign of loyalty and a reminder to people what's important in life.
Have you ever heard this story before? If not, I`m sure you`ll see the statue with different eyes now.
When you are in Tokyo it is definitely worth a visit.
Access: Yamanote Line (Hachiko exit). The statue is located outside behind the green train.
Last but not least, if you are looking for a tour to Shibuya. Here is one great recommendation: http://www.travelience.com/tours/west-tokyo-one-day-tour/