Hachiko Movie Review – incredible true story of Japan’s loyal dog

Hachiko, the legendary Japanese Akita breed dog has been the testimony of loyalty for nearly a century now.

In 1924, Hachiko was brought to Tokyo by his owner, Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor in the agriculture department at the University of Tokyo.

Every day Hachiko would accompany his human to the Shibuya railway station and welcome him back in the evening.

Hachiko with owner
Hachiko and Professor were very close, and every day, at same time, Hachiko would meet his owner at Tokyo’s Shibuya train station and they would go home together. Even the commuters came to know Hachiko and loved to play with him.

The pair continued their daily routine until May 1925 when Professor Ueno didn’t return on the usual train one evening as he couldn’t survive the fatal brain haemorrhage.

Hachiko was given away after his master’s death, but he religiously escaped, turning up time and again at his old home. With the passage of time, he apparently realized that Professor Ueno no longer lived at the house. So he went to look for his master at the train station where he had accompanied him so many times before.

Hachiko, the loyal dog who waited…

This marked the beginning of one of the utmost heart-wrenching love stories you’ll ever pay an audience to… ten years on the trot, Hachiko waited for Professor Ueno to return. And each day he didn’t see his friend among the commuters at the station.

The faithful dog didn’t allow his ageing body or arthritis to get in the way of his daily ritual. 10 years on, like clockwork, he’d still return to the station every day to wait for his owner, never giving up hope that the professor would return. There are also unfortunate stories about how Hachi was bullied by some pedestrians and even children while he lingered around the railway station.

Japanese fall in love with Hachiko

In 1932, one of the Professor’s former students, Hirokichi Saito, intrigued by Hachiko’s routine published a story in Asahi Shimbun, Tokyo’s largest newspaper about how the poor dog was being mistreated. Hachi became a national sensation, overnight, the most famous dog in all of Japan. The ‘ko’ was added to the end of Hachi’s name as people wished to show respect for his loyalty. His faithfulness to his long-dead master impressed the people of Japan as a spirit of family loyalty all should strive to achieve. Teachers and parents used Hachiko’s vigil as an example for children to follow.

He’d be visited by people from all over Japan as a source of inspiration and good luck. And yet oblivious to all this fame, he remained just a dog waiting for his master.

Hachiko movie review
Hachiko passed away on March 8, 1935, still waiting outside the train station. The Japanese were truly heartbroken and preserved Hachiko’s body at the National Science Museum of Japan. A statue for Hachiko was also commemorated outside the station.

Hachiko statue

In 1934, the statue of Hachiko was presented by a well-known Japanese artist. Hachiko also graced the ceremony. Eventually, Hachiko’s legendary faithfulness became a national symbol of loyalty. An annual ceremony celebrated each year on April 8, honours Hachiko’s devotion and loyalty at Tokyo’s Shibuya railroad station.

During World War II, Hachiko’s statue got destroyed, but it was rebuilt in 1948 and became an iconic spot. Bronze paw prints mark the exact spot where Hachiko was waiting.

Hachiko statue Japan
People show their respect at Hachikō’s statue during the one-year anniversary of his death.

The gate at the station entrance closest to the statue was renamed, “Hachikō-guchi”, or “The Hachikō Entrance/Exit” in Japanese. Also, one of the train lines was renamed the Hachiko Line.

Hachiko museum Japan
Hachiko’s fur was preserved, stuffed, and mounted. It can be seen at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Ueno, Tokyo.

Hachiko’s grave

Aoyama Cemetery, famous for its cherry blossoms, has graves of many prominent people but perhaps the most famous of them all is the grave of Hachiko. He was buried alongside his owners, Hidesaburō Ueno and Yaeko Sakano.

Hachiko Movie Review – 1987 (Japanese)

The 1987 Japanese movie, Hachiko Monogatari, based on Hachiko’s undying loyalty to his master even after his death was a run-away Japanese box office success. Believe me, if this story fails to arouse an emotional outburst through your lachrymal glands then perhaps you need to seek psychiatry help! 🙂

Adorned with the 1987 Genesis Awards (awarded for films that contribute to the humane treatment of animals), Hachiko scored with critics and audiences alike. This poignant tale, the profound commentary on the concept of “interspecies altruism” is directed in a subtle manner unlike most of the other movies in the genre.

See also: Loyal dogs who waited for their dead masters

This film presents to us the inexplicable bond between two souls of different species. None of the other characters in the film seems to understand it; the man’s own family cannot appreciate it; and I wouldn’t be surprised if we, the audience, are not expected to understand it either. This adds even more value to the magical bond that Professor Ueno & Hachi shared.

A review on Imdb.com reads,” If this movie doesn’t affect you, you are THE DEVIL!”

If you’re an animal lover, you’ll be hooked from the first minute. If you’re not an animal lover, then you’ll be one by the time the movie’s over.

There once was a man so an old story goes
Went to the station every day rain or snow
His faithful dog would walk right by his side
And sit there and wait till he came home at night

And when the man died the dog still would go
To the station each day … why? no one knows

He was waiting for someone he loved
Waiting for someone he loved
Someone he believed in someone he could trust
Day after day waiting for someone he loved

Days turned to weeks and months turned to years
Trains came and went, but the dog still appeared
Hoping to see the face he adored
His old true companion – the one he lived for
But then came the night when the dog finally died
Now I know he’s there walking by his master’s side

He’s been waiting for someone he loved
Waiting for someone he loved
Someone he believed in someone he could trust
Don’t you think humans could learn from that dog?
Now I don’t know about all of you
But I wish that my heart was so true
To think he could miss him that much

He spent all his life waiting for someone he loved
Waiting for someone he loved!

Hachiko statue plate
(Above) The bronze statue was erected outside the station where Hachiko would meet his owner. (Below) On the spot where he would wait, a bronze plaque was put to honour Hachiko’s loyalty.

Hachi: A Dog’s Tale review (2009)

In the summer of 2009 and Hachiko was brought back to the silver screen, this time in a Hollywood production starring Richard Gere and Joan Allen. The movie directed by Lasse Hallstrom (My Life as a dog, A Dog’s Purpose) would surely capture your imagination and catapult you to the world which has only lived in your vivid memories like those of the Grimm Brothers fairy tales.

The movie reimagines Hachi in the USA, where a music professor Parker Wilson, played by Richard Gere forges a till-death-do-us-part bond with him.

Hachi a dog's tale movie review

Here’s our homage…a silent nod to Hachiko’s immortal love and loyalty!

I don't care who dies in a movie, as long as the dog lives.
I don’t care who dies in a movie, as long as the dog lives.

After nearly a century, finally, Hachiko was reunited with his human in a statue. 

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8 thoughts on “Hachiko Movie Review – incredible true story of Japan’s loyal dog”

  1. Bodhisattwa Dasgupta

    I visited this statue in 2014…100s every day take selfies with this statue…I have one as well…its heartbreaking to see the movie but loving too…!!!!

  2. Claudia Bonavita

    I’ve watched both movies a trillion times and i always cry so badly. He was such a fantastic dog. I just wish he did not have to have gone through that but then ppl would not have learned about a dog’s true love cause that was the only way 4 ppl to learn how true dog’s are to us. Its taught a ppl the meaning of Love. But I still don’t like it that he suffered like that.

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