Hachiko Meets Richard Gere

Earlier we recounted the tale of Hachiko, the Japanese akita, revered for his fierce loyalty to his master, Professor Ueno. A Japanese Greyfriars Bobby… The children’s book, written by Lesléa Newman and illustrated by Machiyo Kodaira, won the ASPCA Children’s Book Honor in 2004.

A joyously tearful 1987 Japanese movie, Hachiko Monogatari, followed.

Hachiko’s legend is also featured in David Wroblewski’s , first book, The Sawtelle Dogs.

HachikoNow, Hachiko: A Dog’s Tale, is being released in American theatres on December 18, 2009. It stars Richard Gere as the professor, Forest as Hachiko, and a couple of shiba inu puppies as the young Hachiko. It is set in Bristol, Rhode Island, and everyone speaks American.

According to one of the movie’s producers: “Something about this dog’s simple act of unwavering loyalty, of waiting, is so profoundly moving…People seem to identify with Hachiko. He symbolizes so many different things to different people. Hachiko represents innocence, fear, hope, joy, loss and loneliness.”

In May 1994, Japan’s Culture Broadcasting Network played a recording of Hachiko barking which had been made from a broken record repaired with laser surgery. Millions of people tuned in to listen to Hachiko barking, 59 years after his death. Each April, tens of thousands visit the dog’s statue at the Shibuya train station, during a festival in which food offerings are left at the base of the dog’s statue, in hopes that his loyal spirit will visit all humans.

Go see the movie, and take lots of Kleenex. But please don’t hit the pet shop after and buy an akita or shiba inu. As Harry Haller noted, these steppenwolves are magic theatre and not for everyone…

For more on the akita and its recovery from near-extinction during World War II, read The Man Who Saved Akitas.

Image: Hachiko, stuffed, at the National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo.

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15 responses to “Hachiko Meets Richard Gere

  1. hashiko love you, I’m very sorry for you and your owner I saw your film today on December 27, 2009 but do not know if you can answer me please I never knew you were a dog so I do not … eio know what to say but adorote feel very much sadness that I love you

  2. Such an amazing story..I wish this could be publicized more..I own a wolf/akita mix…she is absolutely the most loyal dog..playful..sweet…and a little rascal..the story made me cry..its so sad that pair is gone forever…I wish people like those two more more common these days…

  3. I found loneliness and homesick to our pet dog CHACHA after watching this movie..It really makes my heart cry..I wish I could vist HACHIko in JAPAN and to be with my DOG CHACHA..

  4. just watched the movie. i couldnt stop crying…

  5. fabio ( BRAZIL)

    The movie is wonderfull, my wife and I, just loved,

  6. Daniel (Brazil) 13/02/2010 02:00
    Sei que este é um de muitos sites que relatam esta bela historia !
    Eu desconhecia esta maravilhosa dedicação de amizade.
    Entao esta é uma forma de expressar meus sentimentos ao HACHIKO.
    Este foi um grande amigo, que demostrou a todos nós que estes seres tambem tem sentimentos.
    É triste ver como nós agimos sem perceber onde esta o maior tesouro da vida.
    Forte abraço a todos que admiraram esta historia.

    Daniel (Brazil) 13/02/2010 02:00
    I know this is one of many sites that describe this beautiful story!
    I know about this wonderful dedication of friendship.
    So this is a way to express my feelings to Hachiko.
    This was a great friend, who has shown us all that these beings have feelings too.
    Funny how we act without realizing where it is the greatest treasure in life.
    Warm embrace to all who admired this story.

  7. Ohh Hachiko! i am sorry for your loss….

  8. Hachiko, el mejor perro del mundo. Esta peli es muy buena, pero no se parece a la historia real. Para conocer mejor su historia ver esta: Hachiko monogatari.

  9. I watched the movie only a couple of nights ago, although I’ve heard of it for a long time now.
    It’s a great film. Full of positive virtues. Even people who are just passing thru the station loved Hachiko. We already loved him too just seeing what a dog he was in the movie.
    We are already decided on getting an Akita and a Chow soon as we’re able. We thought a Chow-chow is loyal, but turns out an Akita could be so much more. Of course, it is about how you lovingly raise a pet. Children can learn a lot from this movie.
    I hope it can be shown with as wide a distribution as possible here in the Philippines. Maybe it can help to tell the part of the population that eat dogmeat to finally stop and appreciate the friendship and loyalty their pets are capable of giving to them.

  10. This film really touched me. I had a Shiba Inu Akita mix and we had to put her down. She was a very loyal, loving, and playful companion. She became a person in the family, rather than a pet, much like Hachiko. The story is a great one, and truly does reach out to all kinds of people without having to say much.

  11. todabia nose si era un shiba inu o un akita pk se parecen demaciado las dos rasas xdd o talves es lo mismo no lo se….

  12. I love this movie. I cried a lot. That’s a lesson for human people.

  13. Lovely Hachiko!!! Definally I love my dog!

  14. What amazing dog, I watched this movie a few days ago, and since then I’ve been crying and doing more rearch on this wonderful animal. Dogs are incredible and I to have a story I’d like to share.

    I got my dog Logan at the ChicagoRidge shelter in 98. He had no I.D, no name, and all they told me was that a cop dropped him off, luckily he was only there for 2 days before I saw him. They said he was Atika/Shepard mix, but that just didn’t seem right to me. (Don’t get me wrong, I love Akita’s and would love to have one, but Logan just didn’t look like and Akita.), so I adopted him and took him to my vet, he told me Logan had the lines of a pure bred…but pure bred what?
    I did research for a few weeks and found nothing, that was until I came across the International Dutch Shepard Society website.. These dogs were awesome, Military trained stealth dogs that the Royal Dutch Police use. Their site described the Dutch Shepards personalities, looks, triats, and Logan was the poster child. I contacted them and exchanged info, and they told me I had Dutch Shepard “Dutchie” alright, the question was “Where did he come from?” Since at the time there was only about 400 of them in the US.
    He acted strange when I brought him and destroyed the house, caused thousands of dollars worth of damage, Destoyed and entire entertainment center, tore up a couch down to the bare springs. When I would leave the house, he actually broke windows and climbed out, but never left the yard, just hid in the bushes til I got home.
    One time he got out and animal control was called, they tried for a hours to catch him, but they couldn’t. When I got home from work,they were in my drive way, and told me my dog was freak, had to have some kind of “speical training” because he knew exactly were to go were they couldn’t grab him,After they chased him for the entire afternoon he disappeared and they gave up. Later that night he came home around 10 o’clock, he waited til it got dark and came home.
    At this point I was at my wits end, So my Dad knows this guy in Lockport who has a K-9 guardian school, he trains bomb sniffers, search and rescue, and military. he is very well known and respected in his field, infact some of the dogs he trianed went to ground zero after 9-11. Anyway I took Logan there, come to find out, he has had military training, understands german,french,italian, and english. I had to take classes to learn how to handle him. Once I finished, I got him to stop destorying the house…LOL

    Fast forward to 2005, Logan was at my Mom’s house while I was out of town on tour. Logan got loose and ran around the corner and disappeared. He was missing for 3 months, and I did everything I could to find him. I put up posters and cards door to door, checked with local vets and shelters, I even hired a pet detective(thats another story)
    Then a cop we know told us to check back with ChicagoRidges shelter, his exact words were “I really think you would want to check it out” So I did, and thats when I found Storm, another Dutch shepard… odd right?
    well by this time I figured Logan was gone, and now knowing what Storm was I had to get her out of there, so I adopted her…..

    Well two days later I got a phone call from a old couple saying they had Logan. They said he showed up on their farm 3 weeks before they called me. He wouldn’t get close to them but hung around cause they fed him, Finally they gained his trust and got him in their house, There they were able to read his rabie tag and get my information. Well This old couple lived in Alma Wisc. 7 hours away. It was a 14 hour round trip but I got him back. We still keep in touch with the old couple. :)

    Whenl I got home and got Logan situated, him and Storm got along fine, Later I took her to the same K-9 school and found out she has some training as well, she undertsands French and we are about 90% sure she came from France.

    In March of 2010 Logan got cancer and diabetes. I tried everything I could to make him healthier, but alas his caught up with him. He passed away on March 24th 2010 and I shall forever miss him. As for storm she still misses him as well, but we’ve grown together and our bond is stronger then ever.

    Somtimes I think if we carried Loyality, Kindness, and Unconditional Love in our lives as Dogs do, we might just be better human beings. Never take your animals for granted and in honor of Hachiko..give a hug to your pets

  15. pilgrimage to pay respect to this incredible dog is on my bucket list .such honour loyalty and devotion . sleep well dear soul your story has forever touched my heart

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