• Best birthday wishes to Neil Gaiman (The Graveyard Book).
  • Happy birthday to the United States Marine Corps, first formed on this day in 1775. Read The Journal of Patrick Seamus Flaherty by Ellen White.
  • Can you hear me now? Direct-dial coast-to-coast telephone service begins in the United States in 1951. Read Telephone by Kornei Chukovsky.
  • In 1958, the allegedly cursed Hope Diamond is donated to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. Read The Robbery at the Diamond Dog Diner by Eileen Christelow.
  • Happy birthday Sesame Street. The television show debuted in 1969.

On November 10, 1923, the eighth puppy in a litter of Akita Inu dogs was born on a farm near Odate, Japan. He would become one of the most famous dogs in the world.

Although Akitas are naturally smart and loyal, Hachi, which means eight, would come to exemplify just how devoted a member of that breed can be. In 1924 Professor Elizaburo Ueno adopted and named Hachi, trained the dog, and discovered that he loved to eat chicken roasted on a stick (yakitori). When the professor went each day to the train station, Hachi accompanied him, then came back at 3:00 p.m. to pick up his master. But one day, the professor did not return—because he died from a cerebral hemorrhage at work. Hachi, however, refused to alter his pattern. Every day for almost a decade until Hachi died, he returned at 3:00, waited for the train doors to open, and searched the passengers for his beloved companion. When people tried to adopt him, he ran away. Commuters and the station master secured food and water for him. Honored by a statue at the station, Hachiko (the –ko added to his name means prince) inspired people with his loyalty and determination. Because he never gave up, he also taught human beings about the importance of hope.

In America we have two superb books for children about Hachiko, both published in 2004. In Hachiko Waits, Leslea Newman relates the story by developing some of the real characters in the drama and inventing a young boy, who cares for Hachi, and tries to adopt him. Her simple and straightforward prose makes the book great for readers aged seven to nine; the content of the story and short chapters make this an ideal choice for a read aloud for second to fourth grades. In Pamela Turner’s Hachiko: The True Story of a Loyal Dog, illustrated by Yan Nascimbene, a simpler version of the story is told for those ages four to eight; Nascimbene’s subtle watercolors create the perfect ambience for the text.

In Japan Hachiko’s memorial service is held in April, but I personally like the idea of celebrating his birth. On this day, he is just a puppy, newly come into the world. Like all other puppies, he will grow and strengthen and someday come to the home of a person or people who want him. A puppy. Full of possibilities. Beginning his journey to become a prince among dogs.

Here’s a passage from Hachiko Waits:

And so it went, day after day after day. Hachi waited at the train station in the spring, when the cherry blossoms bloomed, and in the summer, when the rains came. He waited in the autumn, when the leaves changed color, and in the winter, when the snow fell. Day after day after day Hachi arrived at the train station just before three o’clock to meet the Professor. Day after day after day he was disappointed. But he never gave up hope.




Originally posted November 10, 2010. Updated for .

Tags: Animals, Dogs, True Story
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for Hachiko Waits


  1. rina says:

    saw the movie yesterday and was so touched..
    I truly felt the pain of Hachi and tears ran

    I work with dogs and know they are so devoted to us and very sad when their leader disappears…

    ( according to the film Hachi waited exactly at 5 pm at the train station.)…

    hope to hear about more stories like Hachi
    I have my own from my childhood and I know
    these wonderful animals will keep on enriching my life and amazing me…


  2. Murray says:

    Tears came rolling when I heard of this story. I have a great companion named “Sadie”. She is so special for me and she brings joy to so many people. I love to hear stores like Hachi


  3. G. Perry says:

    I loved this story when I read it the first time from Anita’s list.

    How we humans need our Hachikos. But I want one that lives as long as I do.


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