By Aakansha Malia 3:52 pm PST

The world is marking the birth centenary of a canine, the most popular symbol of unwavering loyalty as he faithfully waited for his deceased master at a train station in Japan long after his passing. Hachiko’s tale reminds us of the extraordinary connections humans and dogs share. As the canine turns 100 and the world prepares to commemorate his spirit, there’s more to learn about the cream-white Akita, a large-sized Japanese dog known to be the country’s oldest and most popular breed.

Hachiko, born on November 10, 1923, on a farm in Odate, Japan, was adopted by Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor of agriculture at the Tokyo Imperial University, after he told one of his students to find him an Akita puppy. Living in Tokyo, just like any regular dog, Hachiko greeted Ueno at the Shibuya station at the end of each day. Eietsu Sakuraba, the author of a children’s book about Hachiko, told BBC, “Akita dogs are calm, sincere, intelligent, and brave [and] obedient to their masters. On the other hand, it also has a stubborn personality and is wary of anyone other than its master.”

This endearing daily routine of Hachiko greeting Ueno at the station continued until May 21, 1925, when Ueno died of a cerebral hemorrhage at 53. Hachiko had only been with his master for 16 months. Professor Mayumi Itoh, Hachiko’s biographer, said, “While people were attending the wake, Hachiko smelled Dr. Ueno from the house and went inside the living room. He crawled under the coffin and refused to move.’’ After living with different families for several months, Hachiko ended up with Ueno’s gardener, Kikusaburo Kobayashi.

Having returned to the same area, the canine started his daily routine of going to the station and waiting for Ueno. Professor Itoh writes, “In the evening, Hachi stood on four legs at the ticket gate and looked at each passenger as if he were looking for someone.” People started sympathizing with the dog, feeding him with water and milk when they saw him at the station. Meanwhile, he became a national figure as newspapers covered him and his stories in 1932. The station received food donations for Hachiko daily, while visitors came from far and wide to see him. Poems and haikus were written about him.

When Hachiko passed away at 13 in 1935, he made it to the front page of many newspapers. Thousands visited his statue, built earlier in 1934 after a fundraising event organized for him raised 800,000 yen in an impoverished post-war Japan.

Portrayed in Popular Culture

Hachiko’s faithfulness, devotion, and fidelity to Ueno left a deep impression on the human psyche. It stood as an enduring testament to the timeless bonds of loyalty. In the following years, the true story of the heroic Hachiko appeared in books, movies, and sitcoms like Futurama. Some hits at the box office include the Chinese iteration- the Japanese version in 1987 and the 2009 movie starring Richard Gere. Japanese schoolchildren are taught the story of Chicken Hachiko – or loyal dog Hachiko. Every year on April 8, a memorial service for Hachiko is held outside Shibuya Station, where his bronze statue has stood tall since 1948, epitomizing Hachiko’s loyalty, dependability, obedience, and devotion.