Monday, July 25, 2011

Faithful Like Hachikō

From Aforasri Pictures

Last Wednesday I finally made it to pay a tribute to Hachikō. Just three hours after my arrival in Tokyo, I headed to the busy Shibuya station, straight to Hachikō Square.

It was humbling to realize how a dog inspires millions of human being to think of the ideas of loyalty. The stories, the movies, both in Japanese and American versions have made many people moved and cried from seeing the images of Hachiko's loyalty and persistence, to wait for his master until nine years after his master passed away.

“You don’t have to wait anymore. He’s not coming back...” was the line that caught me in the American version of Hachikō movie. The puppy's eyes looked down, empty, and so sad. I watched that scene, sobbing.

It got me to question:
Is loyalty a result of teaching?
Is it genetics?
Is it an instinct?
Is it some kind of primal urges?
Is it the result of believing in bonds?
Is it some kind of needs?

Hachikō was born in the town of Odate in Akita Prefecture, Japan in 1923. In 1924 he was adopted by Professor Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor in the University of Tokyo. During Professor's Ueno's life, Hachikō greeted him at the end of each day at Shibuya Station until May 1925, when Professor Ueno did not return. He suffered from a cerebral hemorrhage and died, never returning to the train station where Hachikō was waiting. Every day for the next nine years the Hachikō waited at Shibuya station, until he died himself.

Hachikō was given away after Professor Ueno's death, but he kept on escaping, returning again to his old home. Later Hachikō 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. Each day, Hachikō waited for the return of his owner, exactly at the same time when his train was about to arrive.

None really knows exactly what was in Hachikō's mind. Most people like myself only learned that Akita-breed dogs like Hachikō are known for their incredible loyalty.
Were they trained to be faithful? By whom? How? What can end a loyalty?

I also wonder if human being's loyalty can actually be compared to a dog's loyalty.
Does the logical capacity of human being turn down their capacity to be faithful?
How many people do we really know who can stand so long to wait, and just wait, to keep on hoping for another rendesvouz with their beloved ones?

I think most people including myself idealize Hachikō for deep inside we long for some kind of innocent, unconditional love. It feels beautiful to think of the ideas of having unbreakable feelings and bonds, and to have faith as strong as Hachikō's: that if we stand where we are and faithfully fulfilling our promises, one day we will be reunited again with the person that we love.

Shibuya today is different from Shibuya in Hachikō's time. The busy subways, private railways and JR East lines had already recorded over 2.4 millions passengers each day back in 2004. However the legacy of Hachikō remains and monumented into a bronze statue at a corner of the station entrance area. It is called Hachikō Square, where friends, tourists, couples, or first-daters meet. Puppy paws are painted along the busy corridors and hallways, and visitors from all over the world proudly take pictures around Hachikō's bronze statue.

Hachikō has passed away, but his story got me to thinking that persistence and loyalty worth greatly. The rain that was brought by a typhoon to Tokyo last Wednesday showered Hachikō Square for the rest of the afternoon. I took another glance to the statue as I walked into the Station's entrance. I felt that at that moment, Hachi has inspired me again, to be more faithful to what I believe.

Dōmo arigatō gozaimasu, Hachi!


  1. aku blom nonton filmnya..penasaraaan mba

  2. Ayo nonton jenggg... at least coba cari klipnya di YouTube. Coba cari versi Jepang dan Amerikanya. Dua-duanya mengharukan banget. Oiya, jangan lupa sedia tissue di sebelah. I sobbed so much when I watched them...