When you saw the title, you probably thought I was a little bit crazy! How could a cat be a Railway Stationmaster? However, in Japan, a cat named Tama was hired to be a stationmaster. It’s quite hilarious!
Tama was the stationmaster at Kishi Station, on the Kishigawa line, in the City of Kinokawa, Japan. In 2004, the station was nearly shut down due to financial problems. But citizens insisted to keep it open until 2006. In cutting the budget, a stationmaster needed to be selected from employees of local businesses nearby. It was then, Station Manager Koyama adopted a cat named Tama, and Koyama promoted his cat as the Stationmaster of Kishi Station in January 2007.
Although her job was to greet people, she took lots of naps. Tama became the first cat Stationmaster in the world and the only female working at the Station. People traveled all over come to see Tama, and due to her fame, approximately 1.1 billion Yen was added to the Kinokawa economy by the end of 2007. With more people traveling to Kishi, business was booming. This led to a boom in goods and souvenirs sold. Tama saved this station, and made it one of the most popular station in Japan.
Some train and taxis have pictures of Tama painted on them. The city really embraced the unique character of Tama.
In 2010, Tama was promoted as “Operation Officer” in recognition of her contributions, and her sister and mother became Assistant Stationmasters. Sadly, Tama died in June 2015 of heart failure. Not long after, her apprentice Nitama (another cat) became the new stationmaster.
Using an animal as an official mascot isn’t new but it is different in the field of transportation. Having Tama as a symbol of the station was an interesting way to draw customers and visitors. I love interesting communities and I’m sure there are many people who are fond of cats and dogs. In the District, people who love cats can go to the Crumbs & Whiskers Coffee Shop. They are popular because people who love cats can spend their whole afternoon surrounded by cats while having their coffee?
Do you know any other similar stories about places that became famous because of animals?
Check out this Animal Planet video of Tama, the stationmaster
Mei Fang, is an urban planner with a strong passion in urban and landscape design, she also enjoy looking for the variety culture inside of the city.