Friday, October 15, 2010

Shibuya Hachiko is Going to Move!

If you've ever been to Shibuya in Tokyo then you know what Hachiko is. Hachiko is the dog statue at Shibuya Station. It's been there since 1948. It is an extremely popular, probably the most popular, meeting spot in Tokyo.

The story of Hachiko is that he was born in Akita prefecture and is known as the "faithful dog Hachiko." He would come to the station everyday and patiently wait for his master to return from work. Legend has it that when his master died, Hachiko, still went to the station to wait.

From Wikipedia:

Hidesaburō Ueno, a professor in the agriculture department at the University of Tokyo took in Hachikō as a pet. During his owner's life Hachikō greeted him at the end of the day at the nearby Shibuya Station. The pair continued their daily routine until May 1925, when Professor Ueno did not return. The professor had suffered from a cerebral hemorrhage and died, never returning to the train station where his friend was waiting. Every day for the next nine years Hachikō waited at Shibuya station.
Hachikō was given away after his master's death, but he routinely escaped, returning again and again at his old home. Eventually, Hachikō apparently realized that Professor Ueno no longer lived at the house. So he went to look for his master at the train station where he had accompanied him so many times before. Each day, Hachikō waited for the return of his owner.
The permanent fixture at the train station that was Hachikō attracted the attention of other commuters. Many of the people who frequented the Shibuya train station had seen Hachikō and Professor Ueno together each day. They brought Hachikō treats and food to nourish him during his wait.

This continued for nine years with Hachikō appearing precisely when the train was due at the station.

Picture of the real Hachiko

I think there is some truth in the legend but I also think there's some heavy romanticism in it too. The Japanese, while they do not want to admit it, are very romanticist people; and I think it is wonderful... But "everyday" for the next nine years!? 

More on Hachiko from Wikipedia:

In April 1934, a bronze statue in his likeness was erected at Shibuya Station.... The statue was recycled for the war effort during World War II. In 1948 The Society for Recreating the Hachikō Statue commissioned Takeshi Ando, son of the original artist who had since died, to make a second statue. The new statue, which was erected in August 1948, still stands and is an extremely popular meeting spot. The station entrance near this statue is named "Hachikō-guchi", meaning "The Hachikō Exit", and is one of Shibuya Station's five exits.

Okay. I believe this part completely.

But I guess I can't complain too much because what I am about to tell you is something that I figured out today and it hasn't been officially announced, so let me be the first in the world to announce it: Hachiko is moving from its current location to a new one.

How do I know this? I figured it out. I have also figured out that Tokyu Department would want to keep this a big secret so that they can gain publicity and make a big announcement later on at some sort of ceremony to unveil to new "Shibuya Station."

Currently, Shibuya Station is under heavy renovation at the East side. I spoke to a Tokyu employee today who allowed me to take the photos (of photos) displayed below and this person also answered my questions about the renovation of Shibuya Station. 

This employee told me that, in two years, after the renovation of Shibuya East side, the West side (where Hachiko is) will be renovated. This person then went into the history of Hachiko for me. It seems that, since 1948, Hachiko has moved twice. Each time there has been a major renovation at the station, Hachiko has been moved! 

I remember when Hachiko was in a different location than it is today. That was about 20 years ago. 

So, being good detectives, if Hachiko has been moved twice, and everytime has been after a renovation (about 20 ~ 25 years apart) then it stands to reason that, when the next renovation is done in two years, they will move Hachiko again, right?

I think so.

So, once again, let me be the first to announce that, if you come to Shibuya, you should take your picture next to Hachiko at its current location because by 2013 or so, Hachiko will be in a different place.

Look at the photos below. See how much Shibuya has changed. I think you'll agree with me; it is obvious that Hachiko is about to get a new home.

I can't think of another dog more deserving.   

Hachiko Oct. 14, 2010

Train museum by Tokyu Department store in front of Shibuya Station

Front of Shibuya Station Oct. 14, 2010

Today's Hachiko at original location in 1953

Front of Shibuya Station 1921




West side of Shibuya 1951

West side of Shibuya Station 1949

West side of Shibuya Station 1949

West side of Shibuya Station 1951

Construction on West Side 1957

East side 1962

Tokyu Train at Shibuya Station going up Dogenzaka 1968

Shibuya West side 1971

Shibuya Station East side bus terminal 1969

1 comment:

Ira Hata said...

You're now becoming an investigative journalist, Mike. Be careful not to expose anything that might get you killed...

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