Sculptor Takeshi Ando who created a bronze statue of storied dog Hachiko in Tokyo, which was featured in a U.S. film starring Richard Gere, died of pneumonia on Jan. 13, his family said Friday. Ando was 95.
The statue of Hachiko, an Akita dog in the 1920s known for his loyalty in waiting for his deceased master for years near Shibuya Station in the Japanese capital, is now a popular meeting spot in the district.
The statue unveiled in 1948 is a second monument to the dog said to have been born in Akita Prefecture in 1923 and taken to Tokyo to live with Hidesaburo Ueno, an agricultural civil engineering expert at the University of Tokyo.
Helen Keller, a U.S. author and activist who had an Akita dog, visited the statue during her trip to Japan soon after it was complete.
(Helen Keller touches the Hachiko statue on Sept. 5, 1948)
The first Hachiko statue was created by Ando's father and sculptor Teru in April 1934, a year before the dog died.
But it was removed in 1944 during a campaign in which people were encouraged to given up the metal they had to authorities to produce weapons during World War II.
The first statue ended up being used to make a steam locomotive and Teru died during the war.
Takeshi Ando created the second statue of Hachiko with the bronze he obtained after he melted a masterpiece by his father as Takeshi had difficulties procuring bronze in postwar Tokyo. Takeshi unveiled his work on Aug. 15, 1948, the third anniversary of Japan's surrender in the war.
(Richard Gere poses with the Hachiko statue on July 7, 2009, during a promotional event for the U.S. film "Hachi: A Dog's Tale.")