In 1924, Hidesaburō Ueno, a professor in the agriculture department at the University of Tokyo, took Hachikō, a golden brown Akita, as a pet. During his owner's life, Hachikō greeted him at the end of each 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 a cerebral hemorrhage and died, never returning to the train station where Hachikō was waiting. Each day for the next nine years, nine months and fifteen days, Hachikō awaited Ueno's return, appearing precisely when the train was due at the station.
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. Initial reactions from the people, especially from those working at the station, were not necessarily friendly. However, after the first appearance of the article about him on October 4, 1932 in Asahi Shimbun, people started to bring Hachikō treats and food to nourish him during his wait.
In 1932 one of Ueno's students Hirokichi Saito (who developed expertise on the Akita breed) saw the dog at the station and followed him to the Kobayashi home (the home of the former gardener of Professor Ueno—Kikuzaboro Kobayashi) where he learned the history of Hachikō's life. Shortly after this meeting, the former student published a documented census of Akitas in Japan. His research found only 30 purebred Akitas remaining, including Hachikō from Shibuya Station.
He returned frequently to visit Hachikō and over the years published several articles about the dog's remarkable loyalty. In 1932 one of these articles, published in the Tokyo Asahi Shimbun, placed the dog in the national spotlight. Hachikō became a national sensation. His faithfulness to his master's memory impressed the people of Japan as a spirit of family loyalty all should strive to achieve. Teachers and parents used Hachikō's vigil as an example for children to follow. A well-known Japanese artist rendered a sculpture of the dog, and throughout the country a new awareness of the Akita breed grew.
Eventually, Hachikō's legendary faithfulness became a national symbol of loyalty, particularly to the person and institution of the Emperor.
Hachikō died on March 8, 1935, and was found on a street in Shibuya. In March 2011, scientists settled the cause of death of Hachikō: the dog had terminal cancer and a filaria infection. There were also four yakitori skewers in Hachikō's stomach, but the skewers did not damage his stomach or cause his death.
After his death, Hachikō's remains were cremated and his ashes were buried in Aoyama Cemetery, Minato, Tokyo where they rest beside those of Hachikō's beloved master, Professor Ueno. Hachikō's fur, which was preserved after his death, was stuffed and mounted and is now on permanent display at the National Science Museum of Japan in Ueno, Tokyo.