Anyone who has ever been to Shibuya will no doubt be aware of the story of Hachiko; the loyal dog who continued to wait for his master each night for many years after his master had died. The statue that sits outside the Hachiko exit of the station is one of the most famous meeting spots in all of Japan. It’s a story that has been immortalised in a few film adaptations with the most internationally famous one being ‘Hachi; A Dog’s Tale‘ (2009) starring Richard Gere albeit with the story moved to America instead.
Back in 2015, a new Hachiko statue was unveiled at the University of Tokyo in Bunkyo ward which also included his master Professor Ueno. It far better resembles the rejoice and excitement they both felt when they met after each work time. I thought this and the Shibuya one were the only statues of the famously loyal Akita dog but that’s not the case as there is another one outside the nearest station to where he was born.
Not surprisingly that place is in Akita Prefecture and by pure chance it was in Odate. When booking my accommodation ahead of this trip I had wanted a hotel a bit further south in Akita city itself for my fourth night. However, there was pretty much nothing available so I chose Odate without really knowing where it was. I also had no idea about the Hachiko connection until I was closing in on the station following my trip to see Nukazawa Station.
On the platform is its Hachiko Shrine featuring another statue of Japan’s most famous dog. Little did I know at the time but if you put some money into the collection box then a dog barking sound is played as a small sign of gratitude.
There were a couple of other dog-related things inside the station including another Hachi statue of sorts beside the Odate Tourism Information Centre.
Of course I saw the Hachiko statue outside the station that night but it was so dark that I knew it best to just wait till the morning. The streets leading the way to my hotel were indeed so dark that I had to actually use the flashlight on my phone to find the way!
The bronze statue of Hachi was first unveiled in front of the station in July 1935 but the government ordered it to be withdrawn in 1945, one year after the Shibuya one had also suffered the same fate due to the Metal Collection Act.
In May 1964, a group statue of Akita dogs, including Hachi in the centre as a young dog, was constructed in front of Odate train station. In the mid-80’s there was a movement by a committee to get the bronze statue of Hachi back and so fund-raising activities took place all over Japan to raise money for it and it was eventually unveiled in November 1987.
Click here to read ‘New Hachikō Statue In Tokyo’
Click here to read ‘Review: Films Inspired By Japan – Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (2009)’
Odate was basically just a place to stay for the night and all the Hachiko stuff really was a huge bonus. On locating my hotel (Hotel Route Odate) I was delightfully surprised to know that dinner was included. It was a simple but tasty soba noodles dish but, having not eaten since mid-morning, I was still hungry so treated myself to a load of sushi plates at a nearby conveyor-belt sushi restaurant.
Bonus: It’s a far lesser known fact that Hachiko rests in peace with Dr. Ueno in Aoyama Reien Cemetery as revealed in my acclaimed ‘Cycling Tokyo’s Most Haunted Sights…In One Day‘ post from 2012 which went on to be published in Japan’s No. 1 English magazine.
Search for “Hachiko statue in Shibuya” on Tokyo Fox and surprisingly very little comes up. Maybe that’s because it’s just so famous that I’ve never really bothered to get a decent photo of it. Or maybe the crowds around it mean it’s always too difficult to actually get one!! I did find a couple of pictures though with some Japanese friends in them in a post from the August 2006 archive called ‘A Surprise Visitor‘. It’s a post of its time I guess as it also includes a maid cafe, honey toast, Harajuku Sunday cosplayers (whatever happened to them?!), Shibuya and Ikebukuro’s most popular ramen restaurant.
Click here to read ‘A Japanese Ogre In Oga, Akita Architecture & Train Travel Tales Through Yamagata’