Tama (cat)

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Station-Master Tama.JPG
Tama in February 2007, wearing her station master's hat
Born (1999-04-29) April 29, 1999 (age 16)
Kinokawa, Wakayama, Japan
Residence Kishi Station, Kinokawa, Wakayama, Japan
Occupation Station master

Tama (たま?, born April 29, 1999) is a female calico cat who gained fame for being a station master and operating officer at Kishi Station on the Kishigawa Line in Kinokawa, Wakayama, Japan.[1]

Early life and adoption[edit]

Tama's "office" inside the old Kishi Station in June 2008

Tama was born in Kinokawa, Wakayama, and was raised with a group of stray cats that used to live close to Kishi Station. They were regularly fed by passengers and by Toshiko Koyama, who was the informal station manager at the time.[2] The station was almost shut down in 2004 because of financial problems. Around this time, Koyama adopted Tama. Eventually the decision to shut down the station was withdrawn after the citizens demanded it stay open.[3] In April 2006, the Wakayama Electric Railway destaffed all stations on the Kishigawa Line to cut costs. Station masters were selected from employees of local businesses near each station, and Koyama was officially chosen as the station manager. In January 2007, railway officials decided to officially name Tama the station master.[4] As station master, her primary duty is to greet passengers. The position comes with a station master's hat; in lieu of a salary, the railway provides Tama with cat food.

Station master career and honors[edit]

Tama wearing a decoration of "Wakayama de Knight" (a pun on "It's got to be Wakayama" in Japanese) presented by the governor of Wakayama

The publicity from Tama's appointment led to an increase in passengers by 17% for that month as compared to January 2006; ridership statistics for March 2007 showed a 10% increase over the previous financial year. A study estimated that the publicity surrounding Tama has contributed 1.1 billion yen to the local economy.[5] In January 2008, Tama was promoted to "super station master" in a ceremony attended by the president of the company and the mayor; as a result of her promotion, she is "the only female in a managerial position" in the company.[6] Her new position has an "office"—a converted ticket booth containing a litter box. In January 2010, railway officials promoted Tama to the post of "Operating Officer" in recognition of her contribution to expanding the customer base. Tama will maintain the station master's job while taking over the new job, and is the first cat to become an executive of a railroad corporation.[7]

Her staff consisted of two feline assistant stationmasters, Chibi (ちび?, born May 12, 2000) and Tama's mother, an orange tabby cat named Miiko (ミーコ?, October 3, 1998 – July 20, 2009). Now only Chibi remains. Tama appeared in a documentary about cats titled La Voie du chat in French and Katzenlektionen in German by Italian filmmaker Myriam Tonelotto, broadcast on European TV channel ARTE in April 2009.[8]

In spring 2009, the Wakayama Electric Railway introduced a new "Tama Densha" (たま電車 Tama train?) train on the line which was customized with cartoon depictions of Tama.[9] In August 2010, the station building at Kishi was rebuilt with a new structure resembling a cat's face. Both the "Tama Densha" refurbishment and station rebuilding projects were overseen by industrial designer Eiji Mitooka.[10]

On January 5, 2012, Tama's official apprentice, named "Nitama" ("Second Tama") was revealed.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wong, Hiufu (24 May 2013). "The cat that saved a Japanese train station: Meet Tama, Japan's cutest stationmaster, and her adorable cat-shaped station home". CNN Travel. Retrieved 27 May 2013. 
  2. ^ Jim Motavalli (2010-10-05). "Cat named stationmaster". Mother Nature Network. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  3. ^ Lund, Georgia. "Tama the Cat Drums Up Business for Railway in Japan". website. Yahoo! Business. Retrieved 27 February 2013. 
  4. ^ "Cat named stationmaster". Japan Probe. 2007-01-14. Retrieved 2008-05-29. 
  5. ^ "Tama is the purr-fect antidote to financial gloom: study". Yahoo! News. 2008-10-05. Retrieved 2008-10-05.  (AFP)
  6. ^ "This conductor's got a cat's tongue". IOL. 2008-05-24. Retrieved 2008-05-29. 
  7. ^ "Promotion for Japan’s stationmaster cat". Japan Probe. 2010-01-07. Retrieved 2010-01-24. 
  8. ^ "Japanese railway turns to feline 'stationmaster' for help". 2008-05-24. Retrieved 2010-06-22.  (AFP)
  9. ^ http://www.japanprobe.com/?p=6765
  10. ^ 世界的鉄道デザイナー水戸岡鋭治が明かす! 新型新幹線「さくら」と「たま駅舎」の秘密 [Worldwide railway designer Eiji Mitooka reveals the secrets behind the "Sakura" shinkansen and "Tama Station" building]. Nikkei Trendy Net (in Japanese). Japan: Nikkei Business Publications, Inc. 14 September 2010. p. 5. Retrieved 27 February 2013. 
  11. ^ "Train station’s popular cat mascot meets likely successor". Kyodo News. The Japan Times. 7 January 2012. Retrieved 28 February 2013. 

External links[edit]