Hachiko’s Emotional Tale: A Story of Loyalty but Why is Madonna Playing in the Background?!

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  • I believe that most of us are familiar with Hachiko(ハチ公) and his heart-warming and emotional story.
    In case you are not, I will briefly introduce you to the symbol of loyalty, the Akita Inu (Akita dog), Hachiko, also known as Hachi.

    He was born in 1923, November 10th and lived up to 1935, 8th of March. Hachiko is known to Japanese people as “忠犬ハチ公” (Chuken Hachiko), literally translated as faithful dog Hachiko and as mentioned above, it represents a symbol of remarkable loyalty in Japan.
    His story (that I’ll be talking about below) is well-known worldwide and even had many movie adaptations including an American one featuring Richard Gere(Hachi: A Dog’s Tale) who is portraying Hachiko’s owner.

    But firstly, let’s make clear what happened in one of the Japanese adaptations of Hachiko …

    Hachiko’s Movie and the mystery behind why Madonna’s song is being played in the ending

    The Japanese movie aired on Nippon TV (NiTere), “The Legendary Akita Dog, Hachi” (伝説の秋田犬ハチ/Densetsu no Akita Inu, Hachi), not to be confused with the old version Hachiko Monogatari, portrays the story of Hachiko and has something that makes it quite unique from the other adaptations.

    The reason why I say that is because at the most emotional moment of the story, when Ueno Shizuko, Mr. Ueno’s wife, embraces Hachiko in his final moment, an unexpected choice of music starts playing in the background. At first, you can only hear some rhythmic beats without lyrics that personally made me feel like aliens are about to come and take Hachi with them, but as the generic appears and Hachi reunites with his owner in heaven, you start hearing a familiar voice, a familiar song and realise it’s Madonna who is singing in the background.

    The music picked for Hachi’s last moment was Madonna’s “How High” from the album “Confessions on the Dance Floor”. Can you imagine? Well, even if you can’t, you can watch the whole moment in the link above.

    However, there is apparently a reason behind their bizarre choice; it seems that they already bought Madonna’s songs and used up to 12 of her songs in the series. They didn’t have much of a choice because of the contract, so they had to use that particular song at the end of the movie, resulting into a not so emotional scene during Hachi’s death because of Madonna’s song, “How High”.

    Now, that we’ve cleared this up, let’s discuss a little about…

    Hachiko’s Emotional Story

    Hachiko or Hachi is an Akita Inu breed known for the loyalty he showed by waiting for Hidesaburo Ueno, his owner even after he passed away.
    Hachi, born at a farm in Odate, a city in Akita Prefecture was brought to Shibuya, Tokyo by the Professor Hidesaburo Ueno, at the time working at Tokyo Imperial University.

    Hachiko would wait for Ueno everyday at the Shibuya station and walk back home with him until an incident, in 1925, brings turbulence into their peaceful life; Ueno passes away at work and never returns to the station. However, the dog continues to wait for his friend’s return and continues to do so for about 9 years when Hachiko falls ill and loses his life due to the terminal cancer and filaria infection.

    Hachiko gradually got lots of attention from the locals and people passing by especially after an article about him is published in the Asahi Shinbun.

    Hachi gains more and more attention from the media making people more aware of his existence, gradually growing in popularity among the citizens.

    Hachiko’s Statue

    In 1934 a statue of Hachiko, made out of bronze by Teru Ando was built in Shibuya, but had to be recycled due to World War II. In 1948, a second statue is built in a more frequented spot at one of Shibuya’s entrances and given the name Hachiko-guchi(Hachiko’s Entrance) in Hachi’s memory.

    You can also discover a similar statue in front of Odate Station, Akita Prefecture, where Hachiko was born and also in front of the Akita Dog Museum where there are many other statues of Akita dogs.

    In 2015, at the University of Tokyo, a statue of Hachiko reunited with his master was finally built in commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the dog’s death.

    Hachiko is given as an example to children in Japan and represents a symbol of faithfulness, so if you are in Japan, don’t forget to pass by one of the statues and greet him.