Hachiko_ the loyal dog_ and Richard Gere- A new Hachiko movie to be released

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					Hachiko was born on November 10, 1923 and died on March 8, 1935; generations of
Japanese have remembered the Akita dog for his loyalty to his owner: Hidesaburo
Ueno. Ueno was a professor at Tokyo Imperial University. Given the dog in 1924,
Ueno named him Hachi; the 'ko' on the end of his name is a suffix showing affection.
Ueno died about a year later. Hachiko was put in a new home but would often go to
Ueno's house. Later Hachiko was placed with a breeder in Shibuya. Every evening
Hachiko would go to Shibuya Station, sit and wait for Ueno.

Hachiko continued this for many years after Ueno's death. Japanese began to refer to
Hachiko and his faithfulness to his long deceased owner. One of Ueno's students
wrote articles on Hachiko and his faithfulness. In October 1932, one of these articles
appeared in Tokyo's largest newspaper, reporting on Hachiko waiting for his deceased
owner; Hachiko became famous across Japan. The first Hachiko movie was produced.
Teru Ando made the first sculpture of Hachiko, which was put in front of Shibuya
Station in April 1934.

Hachiko died in March the following year on a street in Shibuya with filarial worms
in his heart and three to four yakitori sticks in his stomach. In 1944, Hachiko's statue
was melted down for metal as part of the war effort. Several years after the war ended,
Takeshi Ando, the son of Teru Ando, made the second Hachiko sculpture. On August
15, 1948, the bronze statue was unveiled.

In 1987, a second Hachiko movie appeared in Japan; the movie was a blockbuster.
Since then, there have been references to Hachiko in popular culture in America.
Scooby-Doo and the Samurai Sword, the 2009 animated film, refers to the legend of
Hachiko. Matt Groening's Futurama has an episode titled "Jurassic Bark" that is
similar to the story of Hachiko. There have also been a number of children's books in
the English-speaking world that feature Hachiko.

Next month a remake of Hachiko starring Richard Gere will be released in Japan. An
American release will follow in October. The film was made in Rhode Island.

I believe we take to this narrative of Hachiko because Hachiko becomes the symbol of
unconditional love and loyalty in a world in which both have conditions. In the real
world love and loyalty depend on a laundry list of factors. We imagine thirty or fifty
years ago that both love and loyalty were constant and enduring. We may say that
long ago, employees were loyal and stayed in the same job or with the same team
their entire lives. We may say that married people stayed together because they truly
loved each other. We may have many images of how life used to be.

I wish I believed that there was such a time. Although we may be experiencing a
world depression right now, I believe that the world is only superficially different
today. Love and loyalty are based on relationships and options and behaviors. Given
our world, Hachiko becomes a hero. He is the ideal being: always true, loving and
faithful. We may yearn for the people around us to shower us with such loyalty.
Unfortunately the world of Hachiko is quite different from the world that most of us
live in.

Still I'm looking forward to seeing the movie about Hachiko because for the price of
admission, I'll be able to forget the sometimes harsh realities of life and enjoy
vicariously participating in Hachiko's world.

				
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posted:1/22/2011
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