Rare photograph shows Japan's most loyal dog Hachiko relaxing alone at Shibuya Station

In this photo taken around 1934, Hachiko relaxes in front of Shibuya Station in Tokyo, while passersby seem not to pay attention to the dog.
PHOTO: The Japan News/ANN

A rare, 80-year-old photo has been found of Chuken Hachiko, an Akita dog famous for its unshakable loyalty to his master, that shows it lying on its stomach in front of Tokyo’s Shibuya Station.

The photo shows the dog blending in naturally at the station, and is totally different from other memorial and closeup photos.

When Hachiko is pictured alone, the environment around the dog is unclear. Almost all shots of the dog with people were taken as memorial photos.

The photo found recently was taken around 1934 by the late Isamu Yamamoto, a former bank employee who lived in the Sarugakucho district in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo. That year, the first statue of the dog was erected in front of the station and Hachiko attracted public attention as a faithful dog.

Yamamoto’s family found the photo when they were cleaning up the house where he lived and gave it to sculptor Takeshi Ando, 92, in Yoyogi, Shibuya Ward, who created the second statue in front of the station. Yamamoto died in 1947.

In the photo, Hachiko relaxes on his stomach near a ticket gate at the station, while commuters do not seem to pay any particular attention to the dog. In those days, the front of the station was crowded with two-wheeled hand-drawn carts and bicycle-drawn carts.

“Hachiko blended in with the area around the station [in the photo] and this is just what I saw at that time. I have never looked at such a photo that caught the atmosphere of Hachiko’s everyday life at that time so well,” Ando said.

According to Yoko Imamura, 89, Yamamoto’s eldest daughter in Higashi-Nada Ward, Kobe, her father enjoyed taking pictures and the Hachiko photo was found in his album.

“Hachiko is a familiar sight to those living near Shibuya Station. I hope the photo my father took will be preserved carefully,” she said.

The first statue was created by Ando’s father, Teru, in 1934. Ando played with Hachiko for about two months while the dog was used as a model in his studio.

Chuken Hachiko

An Akita male dog born in 1923 in Odate, Akita Prefecture. It was raised by Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor of agriculture at the University of Tokyo, and accompanied the professor to and from Shibuya Station. Even after he died in 1925, the dog would come to the station to wait for his return.