Our second grade teachers do a yearly unit on landmarks and since I attend their grade level meetings, I made a suggestion last year to read the story about Hachicko -the true story of a loyal dog- to all of their classes. I felt it was a great choice since both boys and girls like dog stories, especially real ones they can relate to. In our library collection, I found 3 choices: a poetry book entitled : I Remember Hachiko Speaks by Leslea Newman, Hachiko Waits (a novel) by Leslea Newman and Hachiko: The True Story of a Loyal Dog by Paela S. Turner. After reviewing my choices and considering the time element, I choose the shorter story by Pamela Turner. I took some photos from my internet searching with me and went to each of the four second classes to read the story and introduce them to landmarks. Their challenge was to create their own landmark and write a story as to why it should be built. They would be working in groups so collaboration and planning needed to be done together.
After I read the story, we discussed the pain of losing a pet and also the joy the statue at Shibuya Station in Tokyo brings to all those who see it and meet there.
“Imagine watching hundreds of people pass by every morning and every afternoon. Imagine waiting and waiting and waiting for ten years. That is what Hachiko did. He was a real dog who lived in Tokyo, a dog who faithfully waited for his owner at the Shibuya train station long after his owner could not come to meet him. He became famous for his loyalty and was adored by scores of people who passed through the station every day.”
Seeing Hachiko in real life became something on my personal “bucket list” and this past summer I was fortunate enough to check that off. Yes, I really went to the busiest train station and had my very own picture taken with this famous sculpture. It took at least 20 minutes for my husband to take this photo. It is such a busy place and people from all around use this as a meeting place, no atter what time of day or night. I informed the students this year that the original one was melted during World War II, when the Japanese military was desperately short of metals.
In 1947, a few years after that war ended, the son of the original sculptor made a new statue of Hachiko. That is the one I saw.
Other facts about his landmark:
-I informed the students this year that the original one was melted during World War II, when the Japanese military ws desperately short of metals.
-There is a special festival, held every April 8, one month after Hachiko’s death anniversary, when Tokyo’s cherry trees are in full bloom. The Shibuya mayor, police chef, and stationmaster are always there. A Shinto priest performs a ceremony, and Hachiko’s friends come to admire the beautiful wreaths of flowers that are displayed around his statue.
-There is an old photo of the real Hachiko next to the bronze one, which I also saw while visiting.
– In 2015, another statue of this famous Akita Inu and his master, Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor of agricultural engineering for over 20 years, was erected at the University of Tokyo, where he taught.
The legend of Hachiko touched my heart and inspired me as it has inspired thousands all over the world.