The Cat Who is a Station Master

Tama (born April 29, 1999) is a calico cat who is the station master at Kishi Station in Kinokawa, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan.

In April 2006 the Wakayama Electric Railway converted all stations on the Kishigawa Line from manned to unmanned in an effort to cut costs. Station masters were selected from employees of local businesses near each station. For Kinokawa railway station, Toshiko Koyama, the neighborhood grocer, was selected as station master. Koyama had adopted Tama and other stray cats, and he fed them at the station.

In January 2007, railway officials decided to officially name Tama the station master. As station master her primary duty is to greet passengers. The position comes with a stationmaster's hat; in lieu of a salary, the railway provides Tama with free cat food.

The publicity from Tama's appointment led to an increase in ridership 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 has estimated that the publicity surrounding Tama's has contributed 1.1 billion Yen to the local economy. 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. Her new position has an "office" — a converted ticket booth containing a litter box.

Her staff consists of two feline assistant stationmasters, Chibi (born May 12, 2000) and an orange tabby cat named Miiko (born October 3, 1998).

Tama, the stationmaster of Kishi Station, Wakayama Electric Railway,
located in Kinokawa, Wakayama, Japan

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