#Caturday, June 27, 2015: R.I.P. Tama, Japan’s beloved Stationmaster Cat

by 1389 on June 27, 2015

in 1389 (blog admin), Caturday, Japan

Station Master Tama the Cat

We had the story on Tama back in 2011…

Daily Mail (UK): Death of CAT that saved a Japanese railway line and became a national treasure sparks mourning… and there will even be a funeral

Tortoiseshell-coloured cat Tama, better known as the Japanese railway tourist favourite, has passed away.

For almost a decade she has served as nominal stationmaster on an obscure Japanese train branchline, where she brought in thousands of tourists and even spurred a merchandising rush.

Credited by many with saving the provincial Kishigawa Line, the calico cat was appointed as master of the Kishi station just after the station’s last human employee was laid off in April 2006.

The railway was on the brink of closure at the time, but with the newfound attraction of Tama, who often even donned the formal uniform cap of the Wakayama Electric Railway, business was soon booming again.

A major hit with visitors, word quickly spread and sparked a deluge of media attention.

Within a year, the out-of-the-way station had received a good deal of fame, and even a bit of fortune, with ABC News’ 2007 study estimating that Tama’s presence had injected an additional 1.1 billion yen (or about £5,652,983) into the local economy.

In one year alone, an additional 55,000 people travelled on the Kishigawa Line – no doubt in hope of catching a glimpse of the world’s cutest stationmaster.

Wakayama Electric Railway spokeswoman Yoshiko Yamaki said that the cat, which passed away at the age of 16 (which is just over 80 in human years), had been ill for some time.

Still, she was frisky until the end.

‘She had a sinus infection since last month so was being cared for by her owner,’ Yamaki said.

‘But when we visited her with the company president a day before [she died], she stood up and meowed as if she was begging him to hold her.’

The cat’s funeral will be held on Sunday at the Kishi Station starting from 12:30pm.

Mourners have been leaving flowers at the station since Monday and even the governor of Wakayama, Yoshinobu Nisaka, sent a message of condolence.

‘Tama won a great popularity at home and abroad as a superstar of tourism,’ he said. ‘At the news of her loss, I express my deep sorrow and great gratitude.’

More here.

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