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English picture book about life of famous loyal Akita dog Hachiko to be published

This photo shows the English-language picture book "Hachi" which is set to be published on March 8, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Hikoshi Tamura)

AKITA -- An English-language picture book about the life of Hachi, a dog who would famously meet his owner at Tokyo's Shibuya Station after work in the 1920s and went on waiting for his owner at the station for about 10 years after his death, will be published on March 8, the anniversary of Hachi's own passing.

    Titled "Hachi," the picture book recounts the life of the faithful Akita dog nicknamed Hachiko. He was born in 1923 in the village of Niida in what is now the city of Odate, in north Japan's Akita Prefecture. He was adopted by Professor Hidesaburo Ueno of Tokyo Imperial University, the predecessor to the University of Tokyo. Following Ueno's death, he was adopted by Ueno's gardener in 1927.

    The book will be published by Eietsu Sakuraba, 65, a former director general of the Food Industry Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and special advisor on regional development to the city of Odate. The story is written in junior high school-level English, and Japanese is also included.

    Sakuraba had the idea for the picture book in 2020, when he brokered a project to relocate to Odate the "green frog" Tokyu train car that had been in front of Shibuya Station. At the time, he saw several foreigners happily taking photos with the bronze Hachiko statue outside the station without knowing anything about Hachiko or Odate. Sakuraba went on to produce the picture book after a search for publications introducing Hachiko to foreign countries turned up pamphlets only.

    Sakuraba, who joined the Feb. 9 picture book production announcement at Odate City Hall remotely from Tokyo, said, "I made the story to be touching for children and based on historical facts. I hope it will be an opportunity to convey the appeal of Akita dogs and Odate."

    The A4-sized, 32-page book is self-published, and costs 1,800 yen (about $17) not including tax. It will be sold at the Akita Inu Tourism's online store Kodawari AKITA Select Shop, Amazon.com, and other stores.

    (Japanese original by Hikoshi Tamura)

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