Mystery solved in death of Hachiko

March 4th, 2011By Category: Culture

Scientists in Japan have settled a decades-old mystery by naming a cause of death for the country’s most famous dog, Hachiko, whose legendary loyalty was immortalized not so long ago in a Hollywood movie starring Richard Gere.

They say Hachiko died of cancer and worms, not because he swallowed a chicken skewer that ruptured his stomach — as legend had it.

For years, Hachiko used to wait at Shibuya train station for its master, a professor at the University of Tokyo. Even after the professor died, the dog went to the station to wait for his master every afternoon for a decade until he finally died.

Folks at the time were so moved that they built a statue of Hachiko at the station, which remains a popular rendezvous spot for folks today.

The dog’s story was turned into a 2009 Hollywood film, “Hachi: A Dog’s Story,” starring Richard Gere—a remake of a 1987 Japanese movie.

Hachiko was considered such a model of devotion that his organs were preserved when he died in 1935.

Rumor had it that Hachiko died after wolfing down a skewer of grilled chicken —aka yakitori — that ruptured his stomach.

But University of Tokyo veterinarians examining his innards said that they found Hachiko had terminal cancer and also a filaria infection — worms.

Four yakitori sticks remained in Hachiko’s stomach, but they did not damage his stomach or cause death, said Kazuyuki Uchida, one of the veterinarians.

“Hachiko certainly had yakitori given by a street vendor at Shibuya,” he said. “But the sticks were unrelated to his death, and the rumor is groundless.”

Now, for the less gruesome version…


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