Shibuya (渋谷) is one of the twenty-three city wards of Tokyo, Japan and a major center for youth fashion and culture. Packed with shopping, dining and night clubs, it is one of Tokyo’s most colorful and busiest districts. Shibuya Station is one of the key focal points of Shibuya and the third busiest train station in Tokyo serving over 2.4 million passengers on an average weekday. A prominent landmark of Shibuya is the large intersection in front of the Shibuya station’s Hachiko Exit. The intersection is heavily decorated by neon advertisements and giant video screens and gets flooded with pedestrians each time the crossing light turns green.
The Hachiko Exit (ハチ公口, Hachikō-guchi) on the station’s west side, is named in honor of the faithful dog Hachiko whose bronze statue stands in Hachiko Square next to the station and serves as a popular meeting spot. The original statue by sculptor Teru Ando was erected in Shibuya station on April 21,1934. However during World War II, it was melted down and used for the war. After the war, the sculptor’s son, Takeshi Ando formed The Society for Recreating the Hachiko Statue and a second statue was commissioned. The statue which currently stands in Hachiko Square was unveiled in 1948 and symbolizes the commitment and love of people who meet there.
For those who are unfamiliar with the story of Hachiko, it is a classic Japanese story of patience and loyalty. Hachiko, a golden brown male Akita born in the mountains of northern Japan in 1923 was adopted by a professor at the University of Tokyo, Dr. Hidesaburo Ueno. A close bond developed between the professor and his dog and over the next year, Hachiko could be seen accompanying the professor to Shibuya station every morning and returning to meet him at the station entrance when he came home in the evening. On May 21, 1925, Hachiko waited for his master’s arrival as usual but Professor Ueno never returned as he had suffered a fatal stroke at work. Following the professor’s death, the dog would return to the station each day to wait for the professor and continued to do so for nine years. During this time Hachiko’s fame grew with newspaper articles chronicling his dedication to his master. Parents would often recount the story of Hachiko to their children as an example of great loyalty.
Hachiko passed away on March 8, 1935 and was found on a street in Shibuya. It was later determined that Hachiko passed away from terminal cancer and an infection. His remains were preserved and are currently on display at the National Science Museum of Japan in Ueno, Tokyo. Additionally, a monument was erected next to his master’s grave in Aoyama cemetery in the Minatoku ward in Tokyo.
The story of Hachiko has been popularized in two films: a Japanese film called Hachiko Monogatari (1987) and a Hollywood remake starring Richard Gere, Hachiko A Dog’s Story (2009).
In addition to the Hachiko Statue at Shibuya station, there are two more statues in Hachiko’s home town in Akita, one outside the Odate Station and another in front of the Akita Dog Museum. The station entrance used by Dr. Ueno has been renamed the Hachiko Entrance.