It was a sad day for cat lovers and train fans alike when Tama, the cute calico that had served as stationmaster of Kishi Station in Wakayama Prefecture since 2007, recently passed away. Heartbroken as Tama’s many supporters were, though, life goes on, and Wakayama Electric Railway has announced that Kishi now has a new feline stationmaster, as Tama’s understudy, Nitama, has officially taken over the position.
While Tama’s role as stationmaster was obviously more symbolic than managerial, the positive effect she had on Wakayama Electric Railway’s public relations and tourist passenger traffic was no joke. In accordance, Wakayama Electric treated her death with the solemn dignity that it would have for any member of the organization that provided such sizeable contributions, with a company funeral attended by some 3,000 mourners, including President Mitsunobu Kojima. As is customary in Japan, an additional memorial service was held 50 days after Tama’s death, as shown in the video below from August 10.
Kojima has released a statement saying that during these 50 days he purposefully held off on announcing who would be taking over Tama’s role, instead spending the time praying for the departed cat and searching the banks of the Kiso river, Tama’s birthplace, for suitable stones from which to craft a memorial for the former stationmaster.
But with the 50 days of mourning over, Kojima has let it be known that Nitama will be Kishi’s new stationmaster. Tama, meanwhile, has been posthumously promoted to “Distinct Eternal Stationmaster.”
Kojima officially bestowed Nitama’s new position upon her in a ceremony held in front of members of the press on August 11.
Wakayama Electric Railway’s president also revealed that Nitama was not the only candidate for the job, as another cat that holds a position with the company, Sun Tama-Tama, was also considered. However, in the end Nitama was chosen due to her sociability, familiarity with the staff and environment of Kishi Station (where she has worked as Tama’s subordinate since 2012), and willingness to wear her stationmaster hat.
Nitama’s first act as stationmaster was to visit the newly finished monument to her predecessor to pay her respects at the site at which Tama’s spirit has been enshrined.
As Nitama is just five years old, visitors to Kishi Station can look forward to many years of being greeted by the feline employee. Wakayama Electric Railway has set her shift as 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with Mondays and Thursdays being her days off, so if you’re travelling through Wakayama Prefecture, make sure to schedule your visit to Kishi accordingly.
Sources: Livedoor News, Jin, Wakayama Electric Railway
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