The statue of Hachiko the Akita-inu dog is a popular meeting spot in Shibuya. The story of Hachiko showing loyalty to his owner is well known not only in Japan but also worldwide, and has even been made into several films.
However, it is a little known fact that Hachiko was actually born in the city of Odate in Akita prefecture. Here are some spots in Odate that are Hachiko and Akita-inu related.
Hachiko is inarguably one of the most famous dogs in Japan. Though it has been over 90 years since Hachiko’s death, he is remembered nationwide. The statue of Hachiko in front of Shibuya Station, in fact, is now a prominent symbol of the area.
The story of Hachiko
Hachiko was an Akita-inu dog born in 1923 in the city of Odate in Akita prefecture.
Shortly after birth, Hachiko was sent to Tokyo. There, he was taken care by Ueno Hidesaburo, a professor at the University of Tokyo.
Professor Ueno was quite a fan of Akita-inu. In fact, before Hachiko, he had taken care of four other Akita-inu.
Every day, Hachiko would wait for Professor Ueno at Shibuya station.
In May of 1925, Professor Ueno suddenly passed away.
Hachiko wasn’t aware of this, and still waited for Professor Ueno every day at Shibuya Station. This story of Hachiko’s loyalty was featured in a newspaper article, and spread all over Japan.
In 1934, the Hachiko statue was built in front of Shibuya station to commemorate Hachiko. In 1987, the story of Hachiko was adapted into a film, called “Hachiko Monogatari”.
“Hachi: A Dog’s Tale”
In 2009, a Hollywood remake of “Hachiko Monogatari”, called “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale”, was made.
It follows the story of Hachiko’s life, but instead takes place on the east coast of the United States. This movie was well acclaimed by dog lovers throughout the world, especially in countryes such as Germany, Italy and Russia.
Akita-inu: gained popularity worldwide
The Akita-inu breed has gained popularity worldwide due to the film.
In fact, it is said that about 60% of all registered Akita-inu are now residing in countries outside of Japan (as of 2017).
History of Akita-inu
Akita-inu are a breed of dogs native to Akita prefecture. The Akita-matagi, a Japanese hunting dog, is said to be the ancestor of Akita-inu.
In the Edo Period (1603 – 1867), they were used as fighting dogs. From the Taisho Period (1912 – 1926), Akita-inu preservation movements became more common, and in 1931, they were designated as a national natural monument.
Today, Akita-inu are seen as common household pets.
Characteristics of Akita-inu
A muscular Akita-inu
Akita-inu typically measure around 60 to 70 centimeters tall and weigh between 35 to 50 kilograms.
They are muscular and have a sturdy build. Their cute tails curl up into a swirly shape.
Akita-inu are known for their friendly personalities. Like Hachiko, they are said to be very loyal and obedient to their owners.
Odate, Akita – Hachiko’s hometown
The city of Odate, Akita is where Hachiko was born.
Akita prefecture locates in the Tohoku region, the northernmost region of mainland Japan. Akita faces the Sea of Japan, and the city of Odate locates in the northeastern part of the prefecture.
Odate has gained popularity as a tourist spot, since it is the home of the Akita-inu. Here are some spots in Odate that are Akita-inu/Hachiko related.
Hachiko statue at Odate Station
Hachiko statue at Odate Station (Photo credit: 秋田県観光連盟)
There are two Hachiko statues in Odate.
You can find one of them in front of Odate Station.
The Hachiko statue in front of Odate Station was built in 1932. After seeing the Hachiko statue built in Shibuya, the people of Odate decided to build one in their town too.
Unfortunately, the statue was collected by the government as a source of metal to be used in weapon production. Thankfully, a new Hachiko statue was built in front of Odate Station in 1987.
Every year on the second week of October, a birthday celebration for Hachiko is held in front of the statue. On April 8, a memorial service is held there.
Akita Inu Hall
Hachiko statue at Akita Inu Hall (写真提供：秋田県観光連盟)
The second Hachiko statue in Odate can be found in front of the Akita Inu Hall. The Hachiko statue here faces the Odate’s Oshinai area, which is where Hachiko was born.
At Akita Inu Hall, you can learn about the history of Akita-inu and its characteristics through exhibits and displays.
On weekdays, you can pet and play with real Akita-inu dogs. There are several Akita-inu dogs of different colors greeting visitors, such as Yuki who is white, Kurobe with mixed colors and Gin who has reddish-brown fur.
Akita-inu with mixed colored fur
Where to see real Akita-inu dogs
Throughout Odate, there are some spots where you can interact with Akita-inu dogs.
Zero Date Art Center (ZAC)
At the Zero Date Art Center (ZAC), you can meet Nono, an Akita-inu dog that is famous in Odate.
You can see photos of Nono on ZAC’s official Facebook page and [official Twitter account] (https://twitter.com/akitainu_z?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Eembeddedtimeline%7Ctwterm%5Eprofile%3Aakitainu_z&ref_url=http%3A%2F%2Fnono.zero-date.org%2F).
From time to time, Nono goes on business trips. To make sure Nono is in town during your visit, check out Nono’s official website.
〈Zero Date Art Center (ZAC)〉
・ Address: 9, Omachi, Odate-shi, Akita
・ Tel: 050-3332-3819
・ Open hours: 11:00a.m. – 6:00p.m.
・ Website: http://www.zero-date.org
Akita Inu Fureaidokoro
Akita inu Fureaidokoro can be found inside Odate Station. Here, you can meet four Akita-inu: Ako, Asuka, Shodai and Omochi.
〈Akita Inu Fureaidokoro〉
・ Address: 1-3-1, Onari-cho, Odate-shi, Akita
・ Open hours: 9:00a.m. – 3:30p.m. on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays
・ Website: http://odate-akita-dog.tumblr.com
Furusawa onsen is an alkaline hot spring, which is rare in Japan. There, you can meet Haru, the onsen’s dog. Take a warm bath and pet a cute Akita-inu!
・ Address: 27 Niizuna, Odate-shi, Akita
・ Tel: 0186-48-4295
・ Open hours: 6:00a.m. – 10:00p.m. (summer) and 6:30a.m. – 9:30p.m. (winter)
・ Closed: Second Tuesday of every month (may vary)
・ Website: http://www.dodasuka.com/spa/furusawa
3 Hachiko related spots outside of Odate!
Outside of Odate, you can find other Hachiko-related spots. Most of them can be found in Tokyo, where Hachiko spent most of his life.
Here are 3 spots in Tokyo related to Hachiko.
1. Hachiko Statue (Shibuya Station)
This Hachiko Statue in front of Shibuya Station may be one of the most famous Hachiko depictions in Japan.
Like the one in Odate, the Hachiko statue in Shibuya is also the second one to be built.
The first Hachiko statue at Shibuya Station was built in 1934. Hachiko himself was at the opening ceremony of the statue.
The original Hachiko statue was collected by the government during the war, like the one in Odate. Three years after the end of the war, a new Hachiko statue was built where it originally was.
The new Hachiko statue was made to have a cuter, softer face. It was also built at a height that made it easier for people to pet.
Some of the shops near Shibuya Station sell Hachiko-related items, which make great Shibuya souvenirs.
2. University of Tokyo Faculty of Agriculture
Statue of Professor Ueno and Hachiko
This statue of Professor Ueno and Hachiko can be found on the Faculty of Agriciulture’s grounds at the University of Tokyo.
The University of Tokyo’s Faculty of Agriculture is where Professor Ueno taught.
This statue was made in 2015, and was unveiled on March 8, which was Hachiko’s 80th death anniversary.
The statue shows Hachiko excitedly greeting Professor Ueno as he did at the station every day.
At the nearby Agricultural Museum, there is another statue of Professor Ueno. There is also a display of some of Hachiko’s organs.
3. National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo
Stuffed Hachiko (Photo credit: National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo)
At the National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo, you can find a Hachiko taxidermy.
Hachiko passed away in 1935, and was found near Shibuya Station. Hachiko7s body was then sent to the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Tokyo, and then stuffed and displayed at the National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo.
This is probably the most realistic sight of Hachiko in the modern age. Though there are a few Hachiko statues throughout Japan, this may be the most real.
Experience Hachiko's Legacy!
Hachiko isn’t just a thing at Shibuya Station. Throughout Japan, especially Odate, you can find Hachiko spots! Visit both spots in Odate and Tokyo to feel the spirit of Hachiko live on.