Shibuya museum showcases last photo of loyal pooch Hachiko

June 16, 2012

By KAZUYA OHMURO/ Staff Writer

Pretty much everyone who has visited Japan knows the story of Hachiko, a dog revered for its incredible loyalty to his owner, even long after his master's death.

Now, a museum in Tokyo is showcasing an exhibition of a snapshot of the Akita dog taken immediately after Hachiko's death in 1935.

Measuring 12 centimeters by 16 centimeters, the photograph can be viewed at the Shibuya Folk and Literary Shirane Memorial Museum in Shibuya Ward until July 22 as part of the "Shin Shuzo Shiryoten" (Exhibition of newly stored materials).

As the story goes, the dog, whose name was Hachi, waited at Shibuya Station every day for its owner, Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor of agriculture at the University of Tokyo, to return from work, and continued to do so for 10 years even after Ueno's death.

According to the museum, Hachiko's daily ritual was reported by The Asahi Shimbun in the early 1930s. As a result, Hachiko became arguably the most famous canine in Japan.

On the morning of March 8, 1935, Hachiko was found dead near Shibuya Station. His body was carried to the station’s baggage room, which had been one of his favorite places. A photo of Hachiko's body was soon taken in the baggage room. It was published in the Yamato Shimbun the next day.

The photo shows not only Hachiko, but also Ueno's wife, Yaeko, and staff members of the station.

One of the staff members, Yoshizo Osawa, gave the photo to his oldest daughter, Nobue Yamaguchi, now 78.

"My father loved dogs," Yamaguchi said. "He told me, 'Hachi came to our station every day and we shared our box lunches with him.'"

A bronze statue of Hachiko in front of Shibuya Station has become a bustling meeting place for people visiting the fashion and entertainment district.

"People in the photo are praying for the repose of Hachi's soul," said Keita Matsui, museum curator. "(From the photo,) we can see how beloved he was in those days."

By KAZUYA OHMURO/ Staff Writer
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Owner Yaeko Ueno, front row, second from right, and workers at Shibuya Station pray for the repose of “Chuken Hachiko” (Loyal Dog Hachiko) in Tokyo on March 8, 1935. (Provided by Shibuya Folk and Literary Shirane Memorial Museum)

Owner Yaeko Ueno, front row, second from right, and workers at Shibuya Station pray for the repose of “Chuken Hachiko” (Loyal Dog Hachiko) in Tokyo on March 8, 1935. (Provided by Shibuya Folk and Literary Shirane Memorial Museum)

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  • Owner Yaeko Ueno, front row, second from right, and workers at Shibuya Station pray for the repose of “Chuken Hachiko” (Loyal Dog Hachiko) in Tokyo on March 8, 1935. (Provided by Shibuya Folk and Literary Shirane Memorial Museum)

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