The swarm of tourists was the first to catch my attention when I emerged from Shibuya Station. Curious (as usual), I swooshed to their direction and found a tail. And a tale, too.
It’s a story I have long been familiar with even before this trip to the Land of the Rising Sun. A statue of Hachiko, the faithful dog, sits comfortably in the middle of circular benches where many locals and tourists alike pass the time.
Like many of these people, Hachiko used to spend much of his time waiting right outside the station. He was a golden brown Akita dog (a large spitz breed common in Japan’s mountainous regions). One day in 1924, University of Tokyo professor Hidesaburo Ueno took notice of him and took him as a pet. Over a year, they developed a friendship and routine: at the end of each day, Hachiko would wait for the professor at the station and greet him just after work.
One day in May 1925, the professor did not show up. He had died after a cerebral hemorrhage.
For the next nine years, Hachiko continued to return to the same spot to wait for his friend, getting the attention of the passersby who grew curious of his presence. A journalist might have had more interest because Hachiko’s story was published on Asahi Shimbun, a morning paper, in October 1932. It touched the hearts of many commuters, some even bringing him food.
In April 1934, Hachiko was back at Shibuya Station. This time, a bronze statue, erected in celebration of his loyalty, was unveiled. Almost a year later, on 8 March 1935, Hachiko was found dead on a street nearby. He had terminal cancer. His statue remains standing on its west end, where he continues to wait and wait.
How to get to Shibuya Crossing: Take the train to Shibuya Station and then use Hachiko Exit. Shibuya Crossing is that crowded intersection right in front of you when you come out of the station.