Japanese Mourn Loss of Feline Stationmaster

Hayley Harding
Meredith P., Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
Meredith P., Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0 / Meredith P., Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Last weekend, thousands gathered in Japan to mourn the passing of Tama, the honorary stationmaster of the Kishi train station—who was also a cat. She died earlier in the week of heart failure at age 16, and people in the area are heartbroken.

Tama might have seemed to be a typical cat, living a life filled with naps and lots of petting. But she was credited with saving the train line from financial ruin by drawing thousands of tourists—along with an estimated 1.1 billion yen (or about $8.9 million)—to the area since her tenure started in 2007.

kumachii, Flickr// CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Tama had a Shinto-style funeral, where, according to some reports, she was elevated to goddess status. The station named her an "honorary permanent stationmaster," and her fans are leaving cans of tuna and flowers outside of the station in her memory.

Kishi station will keep the tradition of feline leadership going. Tama's apprentice, Nitama, is stepping into the role, and is expected to sleep and be adored just as much as her predecessor was.