Cat in Japan switches career from train station master to chief priest of shrine

Japanese cat chief priest
  • A cat named Nitama formerly worked as a train stationmaster and is now a “chief priest” at a Japanese shrine.
  • Nitama became popular when she replaced Tama, the previous cat station master, upon her death in 2015 at Kishi Station in Wakayama Prefecture.
  • The appointment of Nitama is expected to help bring peace and “brighten the world that’s been darkened by the coronavirus.”

A former “stationmaster cat”  in a rural Japanese town has recently been appointed “chief priest” of a shrine in Kinokawa in Japan’s Wakayama Prefecture.

Nitama, who gained international attention for becoming a stationmaster cat at Kishi Station, was officially given her new role as chief priest of Tama Shrine by Wakayama Electric President Mitsunobu Kojima, reported SoraNews24.

Feb. 22 marks the Japanese celebration of “Cat Day,” as “Ni” (two in Japanese) appears in the word “nyan” (meow), making the date sound like “nyan, nyan, nyan,” according to SoraNews24. 

This year’s celebration was regarded as “Super Cat Day,” as it landed on Feb. 22, 2022.

The small shrine to which Nitama was assigned was dedicated to Tama, the original stationmaster cat who was so beloved that 3,000 mourners attended her traditional memorial service. Tama was credited for helping the Wakayama Electric Railway bring in more visitors during his post, as NextShark previously reported.

The company and its cat-loving president reportedly decided to appoint Nitama in celebration of their beloved Tama and Nitama during “Super Cat Day.”

“Nitama will work hard as chief priest of Tama Shrine,” Kojima reportedly said, as he presented the cat to the shrine, adding a “nyao” (“meow”) at the end, as if to speak on Nitama’s behalf, according to Soranews24.

Kojima further expressed hope that the appointment of Nitama would help bring peace and “brighten the world that’s been darkened by the coronavirus.”

Featured Image via 関西テレビNEWS

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