Most people, Japanese or non-Japanese, would probably have heard about the famous hachiko dog, and the touching story behind it. The dog (of the akita-breed) named hachiko was owned by Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor of the University of Tokyo. Hachiko greeted his owner every day at Shibuya station until one day, Professor Ueno died of cerebral hemorrhage and never came back. Stubbornly loyal hachiko is, he stayed at the station in the hope that his owner would come back one day. Unfortunately, hachiko’s wait was futile but he never gave up for the next 9 years. Hachiko eventually died of cancer in 1935.
Thanks to the touching story, most people would relate it to Shibuya station in Tokyo, where the lovable hachiko dog statue stands loyally and determinedly in the midst of crowds of Japanese girls on full make-up, tourists and the intense smoke from cigarettes.
But do you remember who told you the story of the hachiko? Was it your mother? Was it a book your found in the library? Or was it on the news? Furthermore, how did this story float past the oceans to other countries?
One person who had had connections with the Hachiko, or the Akita breed dog, was Helen Keller, a seemingly totally unrelated famous author and political activist from the United States. She had heard of the legends of hachiko who was revered by the Japanese people, and so she requested to visit Akita Prefecture on one of her tours. Later on, she was presented an akita breed dog as she had wished for. It was named Kamikaze-Go, and she nicknamed it Kami. Kami died at a young age, as Helen grieved over the joys Kami had brought to her. She was thereafter presented with another Akita breed dog named Kenzan-Go.
Photo taken from this article
The intricate connection between two seemingly unaffiliated famous characters, of which each has its own moving story. As both characters still live in our minds till today, we will never forget each of their tragic life stories, and more importantly, the cross-cultural and cross-breed affection and exchange that they had shown us.