After years of waiting patiently, Hachiko will finally be reunited soon with his beloved master. A statue of the famous Akita dog known for his devotion to his master Hidesaburo Ueno, is set to be erected at the University of Tokyo, where Ueno taught agriculture, to commemorate his 80th death anniversary. This time, however, Hachiko will not be alone, as the memorial planned would include his master in a depiction of their reunion.
Legend says that Hachiko was born in 1923 and gifted to Ueno by one of his students the following year. Hachiko would wait for Ueno to come home from work at the Tokyo Shibuya Station every day. After his master died, he continued to show up at the station for nine years at the same time Ueno used to arrive. Commuters who saw him would give him food while he waited. In 1934, a bronze statue was erected at the Shibuya Station while Hachiko was still alive. But the bronze used for the memorial was recycled during the war and was melted down for other uses. A second memorial was put up in 1948, depicting a waiting Hachiko.
80 years after the dog’s death, the faculty of the university where Ueno taught wanted to put up a memorial reuniting the two as a way to underscore Ueno’s contributions in agricultural engineering. An online charity drive has yielded around half of the estimated 10 million yen (about US$98,000) for the statue, making it more feasible for the university. They have sought the help of Tsutomo Ueda, a Nagoya sculptor, to make a model for the projected statue. They chose a design that shows Ueno affectionately extending his hand to a delighted Hachiko. Sho Shiozawa, professor of irrigation drainage and rural engineering at the university, hopes the statue will draw many visitors and will become a sort of mascot for the institution.
39-year old Ueda was excited to sculpt the memorial. “I have loved dogs since I was very young and became familiar with Hachiko through movies and by other means.” The proposed memorial in the campus will be the second in Japan. Another statue of Hachiko with Ueno can be found in Ueno’s hometown in Tsu, Mie Prefecture, along with one erected in Odate, Akita Prefecture, where the dog was born. The memorial of the two is scheduled to be unveiled on March 8, 2015.
[via Asahi Shimbun]