When I first heard the story of Hachiko several years ago I knew it should be shared with others. Last year, as we planned a trip with our family to Tokyo, Japan we bought a book about Hachiko for each of our grandchildren and encouraged them to learn about Hachiko as we would visit his statue at the Shibuya Train Station in Tokyo.
For you see Hachiko was a golden brown Akita dog. In 1924 he became the pet of Hidesaburo Ueno a professor at the University of Tokyo. But he was more than a pet, the two developed a daily routine of walking together to Shibuya Station each morning and then Hachiko would return each afternoon to greet Professor Ueno and they would walk home together. The pair continued this daily routine and they became well known around the Shibuya Station.
One afternoon in May 1925 Hachiko returned to Shibuya Station at the usual time to await Professor Ueno’s train. However the professor did not appear on the usual train or any train that day, as he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died at work.
The next afternoon Hachiko showed up at the Shibuya Station at the usual time and waited for the professor’s usual train, of course the professor would not return that day or ever again. Each day for over nine years Hachiko awaited the professor’s return at the usual arrival time of the train.
Initially those working at the Shibuya Station did not know what to do, but as he continued his afternoon habit they began to share food with him and ensure his safety. In 1932 an article appeared in a Tokyo newspaper and Hachiko’s legacy was shared throughout Japan. Teachers and parents used Hachiko’s vigil as an example for children to follow. Eventually Hachiko became a national symbol of loyalty.
In 1934 a bronze statue of Hachiko was erected at Shibuya Station and Hachiko was present at the unveiling. That statue was melted down during the war but a new statue was erected in 1948.
In March 1935 Hachiko died in a street next to Shibuya Station. He was cremated and buried in a cemetery beside the remains of Professor Ueno.
Regardless of what emotions this story holds for each of us there is no doubt that over a short period time trust and loyalty can be build and persist for years.
This story, to me, has implications for our interactions in schools where we have evidence that trusting relationships nurture development and persistence is both a strategy and outcome to progress and success in school and in life.
Hachiko reminds us that building good habits and depending on others fosters mutual benefits as well as how others can begin as observers and then become engaged and invested in the development of positive attributes.