This is the Kishi Station located on the Kishigawa Line in Kinokawa, Wakayama, Japan. It’s very special.
Hint: It’s shaped like a cat!
And this is Tama. She was born in 1999 and lived near the Kishi Station with a few other strays.
The station was almost shut down in 2004 due to financial problems.
The Wakayama Electric Railway destaffed all stations on the Kishigawa Line in order to cut costs. The informal stationmaster at the time, Toshiko Koyama, had “adopted” Tama a few years earlier, was named the stationmaster in 2006 under those cost-cutting measures.
In 2007, she was named stationmaster. She’s paid in free cat food, so she leads a pretty cushy life.
As stationmaster, her job is to greet passengers.
Tama had two helpful assistants, Miiko and Chibi.
Thanks to Tama’s charisma, the station became quite popular and was saved from financial ruin.
The cat-shaped station contains “Tama-themed cafe, as well as a souvenir shop with items ranging from the usual array of pens, staplers and other supplies to Kishi Station uniforms.”
She seems to be very proud of the success of her station. The Wakayama Electric Railway now operates three very cute trains: Strawberry Train, Tama Train and Toy Train.
You can see Tama every Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Luckily, Tama has an apprentice, Nitama, to work weekends.