It’s one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in Tokyo: Shibuya (浅草寺). Trendy shops and department stores, together with nightclubs and cafes dominate the street scene. But I’m here especially for one thing: the busiest intersection in the world, the Shibuya Crossing! When the lights turn green, I walk along the crowds doing this for more than 25 times. And that’s enough! Time to move on (with my life).
And then I see a statue of a dog. It is crowded, people people want to be photographed with him! It turns out to be a Japanese Akita, a dog breed from the Akita region. But this dog turns out to be a special one and maybe we should see him as the most faithful dog in history. Read here about his sad story!
Tip: If you need a rest, you can have a cup of ‘Japanese’ coffee at Starbucks on the second floor. Okay, maybe not a Japanese coffee, but you do have a nice view of the Shibuya Crossing.
A close but short friendship
It’s the year 1924. In this year Professor Ueno Hidesaburo (1871-1925), professor at the University of Tokyo, bought a dog called Hachiko (or Hachi). It became clear that the owner and the dog got along very well. When Professor Ueno went to work, the dog loyally joined him to the station. And when the professor came home from work in the afternoon, Hachi waited for him an together they walked back to home.
Until that particular day in May, when Professor Ueno no longer appeared at the station. He had a brain haemorrhage at work and it soon became clear that medical help was no longer useful. But Hachiko just waited that afternoon for his boss at Shibuya station. He didn’t realize that they would never see each other again.
Waiting near Shibuya Crossing
After the death of the professor, Hachiko moved to a new owner. But that didn’t stop him from coming back to the Shibuya Station every day. He waited… and waited… and waited, but Professor Ueno didn’t show up. He continued this routine for more than 9 years, until his death on March 8, 1935. He died of an infectious disease.
The first assumption was a perforated stomach when it appeared that sticks had been found in his stomach. Hachiko was crazy about yakatori (a dog with taste!) and was regularly fed by people passing by. But it turned out not to be the cause of death.
A statue of Hachicko near the Shibuya Crossing
But how did Hachi become so famous? Many people saw the dog walking with the professor. When he died, many pedestrians offered Hachi food. In 1932 he became very famous when an article about him was written in a magazine. People saw him as the national symbol of that faithful, loyal four-legged friend who kept waiting for his boss every day.
A bronze statue was placed near Shibuya Crossing, although it was melted for military purposes during the Second World War. In 1948 a new statue was placed.
But what have they done with the body of this much-loved dog? Well, you can visit stuffed Hachiko in the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo!
Tip: For a day out in Tokyo Shibuya can easily be combined with the Meiji Shrine and the Yoyogi park.
Hachiko in the media
In addition to a bronze statue, there is also a wall with images of Hachiko. And if you don’t think that’s enough, you can go home and watch one of the many movies about his life. The most famous movie is an American remake called Hachiko: A dog’s story (2009). The lead role is for Richard Gere as the owner of the faithful dog. If you are in Tokyo on March 8, the day of his death, don’t forget to visit his statue to honour the loyal four-legged friend. Many people will!
Tip: Shibuya is one of the busiest areas in Tokyo. But there is much to do. Shopping, going out, good food. It’s all possible here. Although I didn’t stay here I would choose the modern Shibuya or the historic Asakusa at my next visit.
In the evening I go back to Shibuya Crossing. Will it be busier already? Indeed, busier and more atmospheric because of the neon lights. But I can’t forget that lovely dog called Hachiko.
Planning a visit to Shibuya Crossing and Hachiko?
How do I get there?
From Shibuya Station (Hanzomon, Ginza and Fukutoshin lines) you can reach Shibuya Crossing and the statue of Tokyo’s most beloved dog, Hachiko, within 3 minutes. The National Museum of Nature and Science is located in Ueno Park at Tokyo Metro Ueno Station and can be reached via the Ginza and Hibiya lines.
The National Museum of Nature and Science is closed on Mondays, but open the rest of the week from 9am to 5pm. Admission to the museum is 620 yen. The Shibuya Crossing and Hachiko are free to visit 24 hours a day!
Would you like to read more about Tokyo?
- Tokyo Travel Guide | 10 historical attractions
- Edo-Tokyo Museum | 400 years of history in a special museum
- Imperial Palace, Tokyo | Follow the road along the former Edo Castle
- Meiji Shrine, Tokyo | A tribute to emperor Meiji in a beautiful park
- Sensoji Temple Tokyo? 5 historical facts you should know
- Zojoji Temple | Why the most important temple of Tokyo?
What’s your opinion on Shibuya Crossing and Hachiko? Please feel free to leave a message below!