Hachiko’s Story: The Untold Facts

Is Hachiko based on a true story? Yes! However, his real story isn’t exactly what was depicted in the 2009 American film “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale.”

Mar 11, 2024By Monika Dimitrovska
Hachiko story untold facts

There’s something about Hachiko’s story that captivated the world, including myself. His loyalty is inspiring.

If you stumbled across this article and don’t know what I’m talking about, let me tell you about Hachiko. He was the most loyal dog who waited for his deceased owner to return from work at the train station for nearly a decade.

His faithfulness inspired millions worldwide, including movies such as “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale.” However, his real story is far more interesting and heart-wrenching.

What is the Truth About Hachiko

hachiko standing on the ground
Image credit: Wikipedia

Hachiko Wasn’t Born in Tokyo

Despite popular belief, Hachiko wasn’t born in Tokyo but in Odate City, Akita Prefecture. His birthday is November 10th, 1923.

Hachiko was the eighth puppy in a litter born to his father Oshinai (the name of the area they lived in) and mother Goma (which means ‘sesame’).

Hachiko Was Sold for ¥30

Hachiko was a purebred Akita dog sold for ¥30, which was a decent sum of money at the time. He was sold to Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor of agriculture at the University of Tokyo.

Although purebred dogs aren’t better than mixed breeds, the professor really wanted a purebred Akita-inu. Interestingly, Hachiko was one of the few remaining purebred dogs of this popular ancient dog breed in Japan during his lifetime.

After being purchased, he was put on a train and arrived in his new home, Tokyo, about 20 hours later.

The professor named the dog ‘Hachi’ after the number 8, which is associated with luck in Japan. The suffix -kō, originally for Chinese dukes, was added affectionately to the name Hachi, making “Hachikō” roughly mean “little Hachi.”

hachiko statue japan
Image credit: Nick115 from Pixabay

After entering the home of Ueno and his partner, Yaeko Sakano, Hachiko developed a habit of following Ueno to work. He actually followed him to Shibuya Station and waited for his return every evening.

As you probably already know, this story doesn’t have a happy ending. On May 21st, 1925, two years after having Hachiko, Ueno didn’t return from work.

Unfortunately, he had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died, never returning to walk home with his beloved dog ever again. But Hachiko waited. In fact, he waited for almost 10 years for his owner to come back.

It’s believed that dogs have a sixth sense. Still, Hachiko couldn’t comprehend his loss and kept coming back to the station.

Hachiko Waited for 9 Years, 9 Months, and 15 Days

akita dog looking sad
Image credit: Manfred Richter from Pixabay

Sad but true and admirable, Hachiko waited for his owner to return to the station for the rest of his life.

More precisely, he went back and forth for exactly 9 years, 9 months, and 15 days. He very much likely experienced separation anxiety, but no one understood his condition at the time.

After the professor’s death, he was given away and lived in different homes over the years. Yet, he, like any dog with a strong sense of smell, found his way back to the train station, hoping he would see his owner again.

Eventually, he settled with Ueno’s former gardener, Kikuzaburo Kobayashi. I don’t know why Ueno’s partner didn’t keep him, but she probably had her reasons.

Luckily, the gardener’s house was closer to the station than Hachiko’s previous homes, making his commute shorter. This enabled him to return to the now-popular spot where he used to greet Ueno every day.

Hachiko Was Made Famous by His Owner’s Student

hachiko shibuya tation

Hirokichi Saito plays a very important part in Hachiko’s story because, without him, we wouldn’t know of this special dog. One day, Ueno’s student saw the dog waiting at the station and followed him home.

Ueno’s gardener told him the story of Hachiko, which he then decided to publish in the Asahi Shimbun newspaper in October 1932.

He continued visiting the dog at the station and wrote several more articles about his loyalty over the years. This made Hachiko a national sensation and one of the greatest dog heroes of all time.

Hachiko Had a Filaria Infection

hachiko onlookers
Image credit: Wikipedia

After almost 10 years of waiting for his owner to return, Hachiko sadly passed away on March 8th, 1935, on a street in Shibuya.

The 11-year-old dog had terminal cancer and a filaria infection (one of the most common parasites in dogs). Moreover, four yakitori skewers were found in Hachiko’s stomach. However, they didn’t damage his stomach or cause his demise.

After his death, he was cremated, and his ashes were buried beside those of Ueno in Aoyama Cemetery, Minato.

Hachiko Has Bus Routes Named After Him

hachiko bus
Image credit: Wikipedia

The Shibuya City Office operates bus routes named “Hachiko Bus” in honor of the dog. They use minibusses covered with the image of Hachiko you can hop on and ride while remembering the most loyal dog of them all.

April 8th is Hachiko Day in Japan

hachiko statue

In Japan, they celebrate the memory of Hachiko on April 8th.

Hachiko passed away on March 8th, but his memorial ceremony took place a month later to align with the cherry blossom season.

You can attend this event at Shibuya Station in honor of Hachiko, along with hundreds of other dog lovers and their dogs of different breeds who regularly attend.

Interesting note: Japanese consider Akitas to be excellent guard dogs because they’re extremely loyal, alert, and territorial. They’re also one of the quietest dog breeds.

Hachiko’s 100th Anniversary Was in 2023

hachiko anniversary
Image credit: Wikipedia

Hachiko’s birthday is a cause for celebration in Japan, and in 2023, it marked his 100th anniversary.

His hometown initiated the “HACHI100 Project” in 2022, celebrating his 99th birthday as a countdown to the centennial.

The project included special merchandise and time-limited events dedicated to honoring Hachiko.

You Should Watch “Hachiko Monogatari”

hachiko monogatari movie
Image credit: IMDb

You’ve probably watched the 2009 American film “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale,” which made Hachiko widely popular. If not, we suggest watching Hachiko Monogatari, the original 1987 film, first, as it depicts the dog’s life much more accurately.

Hachiko’s story is one of affection, resistance, and a strong bond between a dog and a man that even death can’t break apart.

So, let’s keep remembering and honoring this special dog who changed how the world views love between people and their furry friends.

Final note: If you’re considering adopting your own Hachiko, remember that Akitas aren’t easy to care for. On the contrary, they’re high-maintenance dogs.

Monika Dimitrovska
By Monika Dimitrovska

Monika is a pet enthusiast and seasoned copywriter with a tech degree. She loves writing, but her heart belongs to her two mixed dogs, Buba and Bono, a mother-son duo. Bono’s siblings found loving homes, sparking Monika’s advocacy for neutering and deepening her curiosity about animal care.

But Monika’s pet family doesn’t end there. She also has two cockatiels and two rescue cats, proving her home is a haven for creatures big and small.