Hachikō Waits is a children’s book, written by Lesléa Newman and illustrated by Machiyo Kodaira. It uses the true story of Hachikō the Akita dog from Japan and adds Yasuo, a young boy, to the story. It won the ASPCA Children’s Book Honor in 2004
Hachikō (November 10, 1923–March 8, 1935), known in Japanese as chūken Hachikō (“faithful dog Hachikō”), was born in the city of Odate, Akita Prefecture, and remembered for his loyalty to his master.
In 1924, Hachikō was brought to Tokyo by his owner, Hidesaburō Ueno, a professor in the agriculture department at the University of Tokyo. During his owner’s life Hachikō saw him off from the front door and greeted him at the end of the day at the nearby Shibuya Station.
What a good dog you are. What a fine dog you are. Hachi, you are the best dog in all of Japan.
Professor Ueno speaks these words to his faithful dog before boarding the train every morning. And every afternoon, Hachiko returns to the train station to greet his master.
The pair continued their daily routine until May 1925, when Professor Ueno didn’t return on the usual train one evening. The professor had suffered a stroke at the university that day. He died and never returned to the train station where his friend was waiting.
Hachikō was given away after his master’s death, but he routinely escaped, showing up again and again at his old home. After time, Hachikō 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. Each day, Hachikō waited for Professor Ueno to return. And each day he didn’t see his friend among the commuters at the station.
Hachikō was a permanent fixture at the train station, and he attracted the attention of other commuters. Many of the people who frequented the Shibuya train station had seen Hachikō and Professor Ueno together each day. Realizing that Hachikō waited in vigil for his dead master, their hearts were touched. They brought Hachikō treats and food to nourish him during his wait.
This continued for 10 years, with Hachikō appearing only in the evening time, precisely when the train was due at the station.
That same year, another of Ueno’s former students (who had become something of an expert on the Akita breed) saw the dog at the station and followed him to the Kobayashi home where he learned the history of Hachikō’s life. Shortly after this meeting, the former student published a documented census of Akitas in Japan. His research found only 30 purebred Akitas remaining, including Hachikō from Shibuya Station.
Professor Ueno’s former student returned frequently to visit the dog and over the years published several articles about Hachikō’s remarkable loyalty. In 1932 one of these articles, published in Tokyo’s largest newspaper, threw the dog into the national spotlight.
Hachikō became a national sensation. His faithfulness to his master’s memory impressed the people of Japan as a spirit of family loyalty all should strive to achieve. Teachers and parents used Hachikō’s vigil as an example for children to follow. A well-known Japanese artist rendered a sculpture of the dog, and throughout the country a new awareness of the Akita breed grew.