Walk into the Kishi train station in Kinokawa, Japan, and you’ll be greeted by a station master unlike any other. She knows little about trains, doesn’t know how to speak Japanese (or any language for that matter)…and she’s a cat.
Tama, a Calico cat, is the adorable station master at Kinokawa City’s train station, and she has single-handedly revitalized the once desolate stop.
The Kishi station was once a financial black hole, with virtually empty trains and losing an estimated $4.7 million a year. But that soon changed once the Wakayama Electric Railway appointed Toshiko Koyama became station manager.
In 2007, Koyama, who is Tama’s owner, decided to make his furry friend station master, with the simple duty of greeting passengers, a decision that has single-handedly revitalized the stop. Thanks to the four-legged station official, the station has become its own tourist attraction, experiencing a boost of over $10.4 million, according to some reports.
And it’s no wonder why folks are flocking to Kishi; Tama is an adorable sight to be seen when she’s on duty. Decked out in a station master hat and badge, she spends her time in her ticket-booth-turned-office saying hello to the steady stream of folks who visit her during her working hours of 10am-4pm, weekdays only.
Her influence on the area has become so great, that her image has been utilized in every conceivable way possible. The station has come to house a Tama-themed coffee shop, sells a variety of cat-inspired merchandise (think Hello Kitty, but Calico), runs a Tama train and, get this, has even been remodeled to be in the shape of a cat.
In 2010, she was named Operating Officer, thanks to her contributions in boosting ridership.
In January, her apprentice, Nitama (which translates to “Second Tama”) was named. Nitama will become Tama’s successor and currently “proxies” for Tama on weekends.
Sources: 1, 2
(All images courtesy of Flickr, Google and The Guardian)