Symbol of loyalty turned into a sign of the times, but Tokyo authorities ask people to stop.

April 8 was the 75th anniversary of the death of Hachiko, the dog who waited outside Shibuya Station every day for nearly 10 years for his owner to come home, not knowing that the man had actually died while at work. A special memorial service was planned to honor Hachiko’s loyalty, to be held at the Hachiko statue outside Shibuya Station, but as with pretty much every event this spring, the gathering was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

But even if there was no official service, individuals still left bouquets of flowers near the statue, and one person even placed a paper face mask over the statue’s mouth.

The mask was removed by the managers of the plaza where the statue is located, but subsequently a number of other anonymous people have placed masks on Hachiko, and as recently as April 30 the pooch’s mouth and nose were once again covered.

But while it makes for a cute reminder about the importance of wearing a mask to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the plaza’s management has asked people to stop. While decorations are occasionally added to Hachiko to raise awareness of issues of national importance, there’s an application process that exhibitors have to go through. There’s also the fact that with a national mask shortage ongoing, some people might feel that using the face coverings for an inanimate object is a bad look when many flesh-and-blood people wish they had one. And finally, as the single most popular meeting place in one of Tokyo’s most popular entertainment districts, the plaza managers probably don’t want to be giving crowds any additional reasons to gather at the statue during a time when many feel Japan really should be taking social distancing more seriously.

However, Shibuya’s Hachiko statue isn’t the only one in Japan, and another one also recently got a mask, and even gets to keep it.

Though Hachiko has become a symbol of Shibuya, the Akita dog was actually born in Akita Prefecture, specifically in the town of Odate. There’s a statue of the local celebrity outside Odate Station, and recently the Odate Hachiko got a mask of its own. In contrast to the Shibuya statue, the Odate Hachiko’s mask is officially approved, coming from the Odate Tourism Association and the city government. It’s also a cloth covering hand-sewn for the statue, not a stretched out store-bought mask that a human being could be using instead.

▼ Akita’s much lower population density, compared to Tokyo, is also probably a contributing factor to Odate being OK with its Hachiko getting a mask.

Regardless of whether or not Hachiko has a mask, though, let his perseverance be an example for you. If a dog can wait 10 years for its owner, surely we humans can last a couple months staying at home.

Sources: Livedoor News/Asashi Shimbun Digital via Otakomu, Akita Sakigake Shimpo
Top image: Pakutaso
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