The $10MILLION cat in the hat: Meet Tama (video)

The $10MILLION cat in the hat: Meet Tama the feline station master who helped save Japanese railway from bankruptcy 





The station master in a small Japanese town knows little about trains and is more interested in naps and treats than in schedules, which is not surprising because she is a cat.

Since 2007, a calico named Tama has served as Super Station Master of Kishi station in Kinokawa City – the last stop on the Wakayama Electric Railway.

A decade earlier, the small regional train line had been losing $4.7million a year, with trains almost always running empty.




Miracle: Tama single-highhandedly brought in $10.4million to the once-failing Wakayama Electric Railway by boosting ridership








Workplace: Tama has her own office equipped with a litter box inside a converted ticket booth













But with the appointment of the furry station master, the town’s flagging fortunes experienced a remarkable turnaround, The Atlantic Cities reported.
The tiny, provincial municipality became an overnight tourist destination. Visitors from across the country have been flocking to the provincial town just to take a picture with Tama.
In the process, the railway system that at one time had been on the verge of bankruptcy got a $10.4million boost thanks to travelers eager to see the four-legged railway official.

Beside boosting ridership, Tama has inspired a whole line of cat-themed products, from T-shirts, stuffed animals and other souvenirs to a full set of dining room furniture emblazoned with the kitty’s likeness.

In 2009, the railway eager to cater to Tama’s fans unveiled a special cat-themed train featuring cartoon depictions of everyone’s favorite feline.

Economic juggernaut: Tama has inspired a whole line of cat-themed products, including T-shirts, stuffed animals and other souvenirs like mugs and fans


Welcome wagon: As Super Station Master, Tama’s main job is to greet visitors















Money train: In 2009, the railway unveiled a special cat-themed train featuring cartoon depictions of Tama

The following year, the station building at Kishi was revamped with a new structure resembling a cat’s face.
According to the blog Spoon & Tamago, the 14-year-old four-legged station master receives her salary in cat food.
Her primary duty is to greet customers at the station. The position comes with a snazzy station master’s hat and an office with a litter box inside a converted ticket booth.
Tama comes from humble beginnings. She was born in Kinokawa and raised with a group of strays wandering around Kishi station.
In 2007, officials of the failing rail system caught wind of the cute calico hanging around a local grocery store and unexpectedly decided to name her Kishi’s new station master, hoping that the gimmick might help with the dire financial situation.

Tourist attraction: Visitors have been flocking to the tiny provincial station to meet Tama face to face










Needless to say, the plan worked like a charm.
In January 2010, railway officials promoted Tama to the post of Operating Officer, making her the first feline to become an executive of a railroad corporation.
Her staff consisted of two four-legged assistant stationmasters, Chibi and Miiko, but now only the former remains.
The whiskered celebrity appeared in a documentary about cats titled La Voie du chat in French and Katzenlektionen in German by Italian filmmaker Myriam Tonelotto.
Last January, the 14-year-old’s official apprentice, and a would-be successor named Nitama (second Tama), was revealed.



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