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How a stray cat saved a railway station from bankruptcy and became a caretaker
How a stray cat saved a railway station from bankruptcy and became a caretaker

Animals have always held a special place in the hearts of many people. In Japan, there is an extraordinary cat that won the hearts of the inhabitants of the whole city and became the local station siotrete. Tama saved the railway from bankruptcy and brought more than 1 billion yen (just over $ 10 million) to the budget. How an ordinary stray cat did it and what legacy it left behind, further in the review.

Kishi Station was looking for a hero

Kishi Station in Kinokawa, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan, is part of the Wakayama Railway. In 2004, the station was going to be closed. This did not happen only thanks to the violent protests of local residents. The line was so unprofitable that the railway company was constantly looking for a way to cut costs. Two years later, a decision was made to cut staff at all stations on the Kishigawa line.

At that time, the station manager was Toshiko Koyama. He was a kind man who loved cats more than anything else. Not far from the station lived a whole company of stray animals, which Koyama constantly fed. His most beloved cat was the tricolor Tama. The animal was everyone's favorite, because it had a very meek disposition and was incredibly friendly. Tama often found some warm place at the station and sunbathed there. She loved very much when passers-by stroked her.

Tama was the station master's favorite

When Toshiko was retiring, he asked that the railroad workers not leave Tama to their fate. The new boss, Mitsunobu Kojima, loved Tama so much that he officially appointed her stationmaster in 2007. A special headdress was sewn for the cat, a golden badge was hung on it, where its name and position were engraved. Cat food served as a salary.

Tama's role as stationmaster included a range of very important responsibilities. The cat has always greeted station passengers and workers. Its most important function was a kind of advertising promotion of railway services. In the first month of her appointment as a station supervisor alone, the number of passengers visiting Kishi increased by 17%. People started using the rail network more just to see Tamu.

A fan photographs Tamu

Stationmaster Tama quickly gained a huge following

In March 2008, Tamu was promoted to "station supervisor". This position brought with it a personal "office" for the cat. For the newly-minted supervisor, the ticket office was re-equipped. There a bed was set up for Tama. The cat became so popular that her personal gift shop was opened at the station. Tama trinkets, candies, badges, and a host of other trinkets were sold like hotcakes. Money flowed into the local budget like a river. The station not only ceased to be unprofitable, it brought quite substantial funds to the local budget.

Tama's popularity and success continued to grow. In the fall of 2008, Tamu was knighted. For this magnificent event, a small blue dress with white lace ruffles around the neck was specially made for the cat. As a prize, Tama received several cat toys and a slice of crab meat, which the president of the company himself fed her. The company ordered a portrait of the cat and hung it at the station.

Tama's dedication to the knights

In 2009, the railroad hired renowned industrial designer Eiji Mituku. The specialist was instructed to create a "Tama train". They decided to decorate the carriages with cartoon images of the famous cat. The locomotive was painted in the front in the form of a cat's face, and inside everything was trimmed with wood and shelves were installed where children's books were placed. The doors of the train are opened with a special sound signal, which is a recording of Tama's meowing.

The train created in honor of Tama

The station building was renovated in 2010 by Mitooka. The new design of the building resembled a cat's face. The roof of the station was decorated with cat ears. The windows of the building mimic the eyes of a cat. It looks especially impressive in the evening, when a yellow light shines inside.

A year later, when Tama served as plant manager for three years, she was promoted to managing executive director. The cat became the third person in the company, after the president of the company and the managing director. By this time, Tama already had several subordinates. She was assisted by her sister and mother, cats named Chibi and Miiko. After another two years of successful service, Tamu was promoted to the position of Honorary President of Wakayama Electric Rail. By this time, the cat was already over 14 years old. The company decided that it was already difficult for it to be in the office all the time, all the working week. It was decided that she would only be there for three days out of six workers.

The working week was shortened there

Tama's successors continue her glorious work

The universal favorite passed away in 2015. Thousands of people came to honor the memory of the amazing famous cat. They brought flowers and cat food to the station. Even a small chapel was erected at the station. The cat was elevated to the status of a goddess, the spiritual patron of the station. Tama was awarded the title of Honorary Eternal Station Keeper posthumously.

According to statistical studies, thanks to Tama, the passenger traffic on the Kishigawa line has increased by 300,000 people! During her tenure as station master, the budget received an additional 1.1 billion yen. Despite the fact that Tama has long been dead, her business is flourishing. In 2017, in honor of the eighteenth anniversary of the unusual cat, Google released the Google Doodle. Tama has a personalized Twitter account, which currently has about one hundred thousand subscribers.

Tama has her own Twitter account

When the traditional mourning for the deceased cat ended, a successor was appointed in her place. It was a cat named Nitama. This name is translated from Japanese as "Second Tama". Nitama was rescued by workers at Idakiso Station, which is five stops from Kishi Station. The cat was trained in the necessary skills and assigned to the place of Tama. The first duty of the new station master was to pay tribute to his predecessor. This solemn ceremony is held every year on June 23rd at the Tama Shrine.

One of the candidates for the position of the main cat of the railway, they considered the candidacy of Sun-tama-tama (pun on Santama, which translates as "third Tama"). However, Sun-tama-tama was working at the Okayama station at the time. When she was asked to take the place of Tama, she had to move to Kishi. The public relations representative who looked after Sun-tama-tama refused to give her away.

Tama's successor

The company had the foresight to find a successor to Nitame in advance. A young cat named Yontama ("The Fourth Tama") is currently being trained. All of Tama's successors, like her, were tricolor cats. This cute image continues to attract more and more passengers to this railway line.

If you love cats too, read the amazing story of how on Christmas Day, a sick and frozen homeless cat knocked on the woman's window, begging her for help.

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