WAKAYAMA, Japan >> The fame of Tama, the popular calico cat stationmaster of a railway station in Kinokawa, Japan, has been spreading overseas.
In January 2007, Tama was named the head of Kishi Station on the Kishigawa Line operated by Wakayama Electric Railway.
For eight years, the cat helped to preserve the line and increase its revenues by attracting interest.
Tama died in 2015 but her fame lives on and has even been growing. In China, one children’s book about the life of Tama was published last year and there are plans for a second, as well as a live-action movie. An animated feature film is also planned in America.
“We’re grateful to Tama, who continues to bring joy to areas along the line,” a railway official said.
Other cat stationmasters have followed Tama. A cat named Nitama has been named the super stationmaster, and Yontama is a stationmaster for the Kishigawa Line.
In Okayama, where the Wakayama Electric Railway’s is headquartered, a cat called Sun Tama Tama is gaining popularity.
On April 29, an event was held to celebrate Tama’s birthday at Kishi Station. Wakayama Electric Railway President Mitsunobu Kojima and Prof. Mao Danqing of Kobe International University announced an upcoming picture book featuring Tama and a popular Chinese fox character called Ali.
A foreign film crew also came for the birthday event and filmed for a video about cats.
“Tama continues to live forever in heaven, and it spreads the appeal of Wakayama Electric Railway to the rest of the world. We learned from Tama that it’s possible to send information to the world even from a regional city,” Kojima said.