Monday, March 14, 2016

Stationmaster Tama-chan



Thousands of people at the funeral for a  railway stationmaster in a tiny town?  Cupcakes, notebooks, figurines, tote bags imprinted with the stationmaster’s picture?  A stationmaster born in the worker’s waiting room at the station?  A station in the shape of the stationmaster’s head?  Wait - the stationmaster was also a female and a calico at that!  Tama-chan died last year at the age of 16, having been appointed stationmaster when the last human was laid off at the nearly-defunct station in Kishi, Japan. 



 Ms. Tama-chan, rewarded by ample tins of tuna, wore her cap and displayed a nonchalant sophistication about her fame.  Over the years more and more tourists flocked to Kishi to view Tama and in 2009, a special cat-train (with whiskers and cartoons of Tama everywhere) ran on the rail line, bringing a billion yen income to the town.  For her dedication to the profitability of Wakayama Electric Railway and, of course, her seniority, she became an operating officer of the railway and a company vice-president.  Since no one else had contributed so much to WER and to Kishi, upon Tama-chan’s demise, the president of the railway honored her as a goddess and she was buried in a Shinto shrine.  So no one should look down their noses at a calico cat.  She might just be Tama-chan reincarnated.