An important event occurred in the rural Kinokawa neighborhood in Japan earlier this week.
It was announced that Nitama the cat will be assuming the role of Japan’s new cat stationmaster after the passing of Japan’s beloved cat stationmaster Tama, according to CNN. Tama passed away this past June at a local animal hospital after celebrating her 16th birthday in April.
For Nitama, those are big paws to fill. The late cat stationmaster is credited for saving the struggling Kishi train line after it closed down due to financial difficulties back in 2004. The Wakayama Electric Railway took over management of the rail line in 2007 and appointed Tama, the local shopkeeper’s cat, to serve as its stationmaster.
Tama rose to stardom as a mascot for the station and the area. Tourism and business boomed as visitors flocked to the area to see Tama. As a result, the train line was able to continue running and providing service for its local residents.
After waiting a period of 50 days, the traditional mourning time based on Japanese Shinto beliefs, the succession of the new cat stationmaster has taken place. Mitsunobu Kojima, the president of Wakayama Electric Railway, gave a moving speech announcing the appointment of Nitama.
According to the railway company, Nitama was the best candidate for the job. As Tama’s old assistant stationmaster, she had quite the resume that stood out above all the other candidates.
She also has experience serving as the stationmaster at Idakiso Station before transferring to Kishi in 2012.
Mitsunobu gave his endorsement for Nitama:
“The reason I appointed Nitama as a successor to Tama is that she had teaching experience from Tama directly. Tama was very mild and she seldom got angry, though she was strict with her subordinate Nitama.”
Job responsibilities as cat stationmaster include willingness to wear a hat and having a good demeanor when interacting with people.
Five-year-old Nitama was born in Okayama city and found under a car in the rain before she was adopted by the Okayama Electric Tramway.