This is often the reaction I get from people who view this painting, and they're not wrong. When people view "Loyalty of Hachiko" they are seeing a painting of a dog missing his master, His expression is a sad, thoughtful one and asks if you have seen his owner.
Hachiko was dog that lived in Japan in the early 1920's and 30's. His story and my reason for painting him follows.
Hachiko, was an Akita dog that belonged to a professor at the University of Tokyo. Every day he would meet his master at Shibuya Station until one day in 1925 when the professor never returned. Unbeknownst to Hachiko, his master had suffered a fatal brain hemorrhage and would never come home again.
But there Hachiko sat, day after day, waiting in vain for the return of his beloved master. Other family members of the professor tried to bring him home but he would always return to the train station. He eventually lived out his life as a stray, relying on others who would feed him.
The story of the dog that never gave up gained a lot of attention from local and national news, inspiring many people to visit Hachiko at Shibuya Station to offer treats. The story eventually spread throughout the world and a Hollywood film starring Richard Gere was even made based on Hachiko’s story.
Years later, a statue was erected in Hachiko’s honor and a replica of the original still stands near Shibuya Station. Hachiko’s statue remains a symbol of this dog’s extreme loyalty and a reminder of the lengths one can go to stay devoted to a friend.
After reading Hachi’s story and legacy, I was moved to paint this dog from the past that still inspires and shows the sweet and loyal nature of dogs.
Because all of the old photos of Hachi are black and white, I included those colors in the painting but also added some of what would have been his natural coloring to bring him into the modern day. A lei is placed around his neck as a symbol of honor. I ordered a lei from a local flower shop, put it on my own dog and photographed it for placement.
The legacy of Hachiko highlights the special bond that people can have with companion animals and the unconditional love and comfort they provide. Dogs work to help police officers in K9 units, they sniff out explosives during war, provide guidance to the blind, companionship to the elderly, help those with a disability and assist people in countless other ways.
My hope is to paint more of these animals and highlight how they were put here on earth to enhance and enrich our lives.
Smoky, the yorkshire terrier that provided comfort to soldiers during World War II is the next dog to be painted in this series.
If you came by to see me on the Kirkland Artist Studio Tour, it was wonderful to see you and share my space. Until next time...
Hugs, Jodie Sarah