Historical Cats

  • Tama was a female calico cat who gained fame for being a station master and operating officer at Kishi Station on the Kishigawa Line in Kinokawa, Wakayama, Japan
  • In April 2006, the Wakayama Electric Railway destaffed all stations on the Kishigawa Line to cut costs. Station masters were selected from employees of local businesses near each station.
  • In January 2007, railway officials decided to officially name Tama the station master. As station master, her primary duty was to greet passengers.
  • The position came with a station master's hat; in lieu of a salary, the railway provided Tama with cat food.
  • In January 2008, Tama was promoted to "super station master" in a ceremony attended by the president of the company and the mayor; as a result of her promotion, she was "the only female in a managerial position" in the company. Tama maintained the station master's job while taking over the new job, and was the first cat to become an executive of a railroad corporation.
  • Her new position had an "office" — a converted ticket booth containing a litter box. In January 2010, railway officials promoted Tama to the post of "Operating Officer" in recognition of her contribution to expanding the customer base.
  • In spring 2009, the Wakayama Electric Railway introduced a new "Tama Densha" train on the line which was customized with cartoon depictions of Tama.[10] In August 2010, the station building at Kishi was rebuilt with a new structure resembling a cat's face.
  • Tama died on June 22, 2015, of apparent heart failure at the age of 16 - the equivalent of about 80 human years, at an animal hospital in Wakayama Prefecture. After her passing, thousands of her fans from all over Japan came to pay their respect.
  • She was honored with a Shinto-style funeral at the station and was given the posthumous title, "Honorable Eternal Stationmaster." She will be honored and enshrined at a nearby Shinto cat shrine as a goddess in August

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