By Maria Carcaboso Abrie
Tokyo, Nov 10 (EFE).- Hachiko, the faithful dog awaiting its master outside Shibuya train station, turned 100 on Friday, as the statue built to immortalize him continues to be thronged by locals and tourists alike in the Japanese capital.
The Akita breed became famous worldwide as he waited everyday for Hidesaburo Ueno (1872-1925) at the station when he returned from work, including even after his death.
Ueno, who worked at the Department of Agriculture at the University of Tokyo, did not return one day as he died at work due to brain hemorrhage.
But Hachiko, born on Nov. 10 in the city of Odate, continued to wait for him in the same place at the same time everyday for almost a decade, and became popular in the Shibuya neighborhood.
In 1934, sculptor Teru Ando made a bronze statue of the dog near the station to commemorate its loyalty to the master. Hachiko, who died in 1935, is said to have witnessed its unveiling.
During the Second World War, the statue was removed as Japan collected all available metal in the country to produce weapons.
However, after the war, another statue of Hachiko was built near the station in 1948.
To honor Hachiko and, in general, the Akita breed of dogs, the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo has an exhibit of the dog.
Hachiko shot to worldwide fame when his story was made into a film, “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale,” starring American actor Richard Gere.
One hundred years after Hachiko’s birth, his story continues to draw people’s interest, as the monument at the Shibuya train station figures among the popular spots for tourists visiting Tokyo.
“I love dogs and the one I had died recently, so I am excited to be here at this moment,” a young Italian tourist told EFE.
Mexican tourists Boli Nalasco and Fernando Beltran told EFE they made sure to stop at the Hachiko statue during their visit to the Japanese capital.
“This is the second time I have traveled to Japan and I am struck by the number of tourists here. Both the first time and even now, ” said Nalasco. “It is something iconic, considering all the love that a pet can give you.”
“My partner didn’t know the story of Hachiko and I played the Richard Gere movie. We watched it and one of the places we were sure to visit during our trip was here, to take a photo with Hachiko,” said another tourist from Spain
“We didn’t know he was turning 100!” she exclaimed.
To commemorate the centenary, the Tokyo Metro on Saturday will release a special ticket, valid for 24 hours, decorated with Hachiko motifs to encourage tourism in the city. EFE