I love a spontaneous adventure, especially one that remains in memory for over a decade. I thought I’d share the great story of Hachiko the dog, an adventure my friend Rachel and I experienced back in the summer of 2000.
We were both studying abroad in Tokyo, Japan, and at school we heard this great story of a loyal dog and his love for his owner.
According to the story, Hachi was one of the most loyal dogs ever known. His owner took the subway to work, and each day, Hachiko would await for his owner’s return at the subway station. But one day, his owner passed away, and the dog waited and waited. This trailer can sum up the story best, although keep in mind this simply an Americanized version of the Japanese story.
(Note: When I heard this movie was on DVD, I bought it and purchased one night shipping from Amazon. The movie is ok. Really, you only need to watch the trailer.)
When we heard this story, we were told a statue had been created in memory of Japan’s most loyal dog. Of course, Rachel and I wanted to find the statue. We left on an adventure, before the convenience of GPS and cell-phones, and had only a handy guide book and our imaginations to find the statue.
We got lost. Big time. We had left the subway station and wondered around in an unknown part of Tokyo. We had seriously gotten to the point where we thought we wouldn’t find our way back or even find anyone who could speak English and help us return.
I can laugh today at the memory of my friend threatening to throw my guide book over a bridge, but in that moment almost fifteen years ago, there were fears and tears and it was far from humorous. We hunched down on the pavement, studying the guide book, trying to find our way back, when a Japanese man came to us and said, “Do you two need help?” It was the most beautiful English we had ever heard.
“We were trying to find the Hachiko statue,” I said.
“Oh, you’re pretty far from that. It’s right outside the subway, in a courtyard by the main entrance.”
How did we manage to walk what felt like miles into an unknown part of the city when the statue was right outside the subway doors? I have no idea.
We made it back, thanks to the guidance of this kind man, and we got to see the statue.
Doesn’t look like much does it? Yeah, it was easy to miss. My friend, I think, distrusted my navigational skills the rest of our trip, but I’ll say this: There’s something about getting lost in a foreign country that sticks with you for a lifetime.
Inspired by the original story of Hachi and our not so epic adventure, I decided my first dog as an adult would be named Hachiko. Here he is.
(Note: A second great little story is that Rachel and I were roommates for a bit. She had taken a job teaching in France, and while she was gone, I couldn’t wait to get my puppy. Originally, I was going to wait until she returned. But no, I have always been impulsive. One day she called from France and heard me say, “Quiet, Hachiko!” Can you imagine her shock?)
Like the original Hachiko, I can’t imagine a more loyal pup. He cries when I leave the house, still to this day, ten years old now. I hear him cry through the windows as I get in my car to drive to work. He even knows when I’m leaving. Sadness consumes his eyes, and he physically shakes. He’ll try to sneak out with me too, and a couple of times, he’s even managed to run out and jump in my car as I’m trying to leave.
I can’t deny that sometimes it can be annoying, especially when I’m in a hurry. But when I can detach from that human craziness, it’s a beautiful thing to see a creature so loyal. It’s the most pure form of love and attachment. As the famous quote says, “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”