While this comes as sad news we would also like to point out that Tama managed to reach the great age of 16 in cat years making her a good 80 years in human years!
Tama was born in 1999 at which point the Kishi Station was still managed by Nankai Electric Railway. The cute Calico was taken in by the station’s employees, they even setup a little house for her next to the main office.
In 2006 the Nankai Electric, and thus Kishi Station, was absorbed by Wakayama Electric Railway. At this point Tama’s caretakers made a direct request to Wakayama Electric’s president, Mitsunobu Kojima, that the station’s new owners continue to allow the kitty to live on the premises. Kojima did them one better by promoting Tama to stationmaster.
Given how many people in Japan love animals, trains, and/or cute things, it wasn’t long before Stationmaster Tama became nationally famous, and she’s credited with helping to revitalize the community by drawing visitors from all over Japan. In fact ABC News reported on a study claiming that her fame contributed an incredible 1.1 billion yen to the local economy in 2007 alone.
In January of 2014, Tama was promoted to Ultra Stationmaster, making her, in name, stationmaster of all of the company’s stations. At the time, Yoshiko Yamaki, a spokeswoman for the rail company, joked: ‘She now holds the fifth highest position in the company.’
Tama is survived by Stationmaster Nitama, whom the company has been grooming as her eventual replacement.
In honor of Tama’s many years of service, Wakayama Electric will be holding a company funeral, presided over by President Kojima himself, as Kishi Station at noon today Japan time (June 28 2015). Considering that some 300 well-wishers showed up for Tama’s birthday celebration in April, we imagine the ceremony will likewise draw a large crowd, and also plenty of tears.
For those wishing to visit Wakayama City more details can be found on the tourist website here.
Check it out as you wouldn’t want to miss out on riding this train! 😀
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