Japan has been in the news because of the destructive earthquake. The news has described the calmness of the Japanese people and discussed their character in crisis. That brings to mind a Japanese dog, Hachiko who is famous in Japan. In fact, the people of Tokyo commissioned a statue of the dog which they placed in a popular location. Even Japanese children’s books make this dog a hero. Richard Gere starred in a 2009 movie of about the dog: Hachi: A Dog’s Story. He was regarded by the Japanese as such a model of HACHIKO-large570 loyalty, they preserved his organs.

So, why is this dog so famous? Well, it’s because of what he did after his master, a college professor named Hidesamuro Ueno died. The professor bought the dog in 1924. He was an Akita.. They were bonded. When the professor left for work, the dog would stand by the door and watch him go. But, at 4:00 O’clock each day, when the professor came home on the train, the dog would be there to meet him.

A year later Professor Ueno died of a stroke while working at the University. However, Hachiko came to the station at 4:00 to wait for him and continued to do that every day without missing a day – just waiting for his master to get off the train. He became such a familar sight the station master gave him a bed in the station and fed him. Even so, the dog remained loyal to the professor and was waiting faithfully at 4:00 when the train arrived. He would search the faces of the people getting off the train looking for his master.

People who learned the story were impressed and soon the story was known to the public. The professors former students studied the breed and found there were only 30 Akitas in all of Japan. They began to write articles about the dog and Hachiko became a household name for the worlds most loyal dog.

Hachiko died the year I was born, 1935. For ten years he had waited for the 4:00 train. A year before his death a bronze statue was installed at the station. It was melted down in World War II but replaced in 1948. If you go to Shiguya station you will see the bronze statue of Hachiko still waiting, as ever, for his master to come home.

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