Note: Tama Station Master passed away on June 22 2015, one month after this article. Tama was 16 years old.

What do you do if a train station in the countryside is threatened with closure due to declining ridership? Hire a cat as the stationmaster!

station master Tama
Show me your ticket nyaow!

This idea was a huge success for Kishi Station on the Kishigawa Line in Wakayama prefecture. The station is now a major tourist site, and was renovated to become cat-shaped in 2010.

Inside the station, there is a cat themed cafe, and even a small Tama museum. A Tama train that features 101 cute illustrations of our hard-working station master is on the tracks as well.

The insides and outsides of the Tamaden, or Tama train.

Who Is the Successor to Tama Station Master?

Tama, the stationmaster will soon turn 16, so be quick if you want to see her on duty before she retires! Don’t worry though, Tama’s apprentice, Nitama is currently learning how to take over this busy job.

station master Tama
Tama, exhausted after a long day of checking tickets.

 In 2012, Nitama was saved from a car accident. Due to her similarities in appearance with the then already famous Tama station master, Wakayama Electric Railway decided to recruit Nitama, … after carefully reading her resume, of course.

Nitama’s educational background impressed the people at Wakayama Electric Railway.

After years of hard work, she was eventually she was promoted to the position of acting president! After her promotion Nitama is usually still on duty at Kishi Station, but takes a break when Yontama is on duty.

Tama and Nitama
Tama’s speech on Nitama’s first day of work, left everyone in tears.

Yontama Promoted to Station Master of Idakiso Station and Kishi Station

Yontama is the forth “Tama” and now reigns over Idakiso Station and Kishi Station in Wakayama. This friendly calico kitty took over the position on January 5 in 2019 after just a year of apprenticeship! She must have incredible talent! Her paws are on duty at Idakiso Station on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Saturdays. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, she gives acting president Nitama a well-deserved break from her job at Kishi Station.

Remembering Station Master Tama and the Legacy She Left

Though Tama is still missed after passing, things are running smoothly under new leadership. The spirit of Tama is enshrined at the Kishi Station platform, so visitors can still go to show their appreciation for all of the good she brought into the world and the paw print she left on all of our hearts.

Station Names:Kishi Station and Idakiso Station (Kishigawa Line in Wakayama Prefecture)
Tama Station Master Working Hours:From Tuesday to Friday (10am – 4pm) at Kishi Station
Nitama Station Master Working Hours:Monday, Tuesday, Friday (10am – 4pm) at Idakiso Station. Saturday, Sunday at Kishi Station