Nearly 90 years after his death, “faithful dog Hachikō”, a golden-brown Akita, is admired in Japanese popular culture as an example of loyalty and diligence. He is remembered by local and international fans at a small, quirky shrine at the foot of his owner’s grave in Aoyama Cemetery, in central Tokyo.
Hachikō accompanied his owner Professor Ueno to Shibuya train station each morning when he went to work at Tokyo Imperial University. Each evening Hachikō returned to the station to meet Ueno and return home with him. On May 21, 1925, Ueno died of a cerebral hemorrhage while giving a lecture. As he did not arrive at the station, Hachikō had to go home alone. The next evening, and every evening for the next nine years, Hachikō returned to Shibuya Station looking for his best friend.
In March 1935, Hachikō was found dead on a street in Shibuya. Hachikō’s ashes are buried beneath a stela on the right corner of Ueno’s grave. Just inside the bamboo fence in the corner of the grave site stands a miniature shrine for Hachikō. The shrine is in the Japanese style with a sloping moss-covered roof. As at any grave site in Japan, there is a vase for flowers and a place to burn incense. A tiny Hachikō guards the shrine. Visitors leave dog toys and food for the loyal pooch’s spirit.
Know Before You Go
Hachikō’s Grave is located area 6, plot 12. Aoyama Cemetery is a 10-minute walk from Aoyama-Itchome Station on the Ginza, Oedo, and Hanzomon Lines, or Nogizaka Station on the Chiyoda Line.