June 22, 2015 the most famous feline of Japan passed away. Tama the Cat’s passing was all over the news, including international, making her gain more popularity upon her death.
But what has made Tama so popular in all of Japan that more than 3,000 people attended her Shinto-style funeral?
Born in Kinokawa, Wakayama, Tama was raised by stray cats living near Kishi station and relying on the passengers’ alms for food. In 2004, as the station faced financial troubles, an employee adopted Tama and dressed her in a railway cap and collar to welcome passengers.
Tama’s presence at the railway station started drawing passengers to visit Kishi station and witness the adorable Tama in its uniform. She saved the company from financial disaster as countless tourists were visiting her.
In 2007, Tama was appointed as the official ‘station master’ making her even more popular all throughout Japan. The idea of a cat as a railway employee, a station master at that, has attracted more visitors resulting in a rise in the local economy.
Her popularity reached the west and aside from being a ‘station master’ she appears in documentaries about cats, broadcasted in Europe and US, and visited by famous people.
As a station master, it is Tama’s job to greet and send off passengers of the station putting smiles on their weary faces, brightening their day and boosting their spirit.
Hence Tama affected not just the community but the lives and hearts of those she has inspired.
It is sad news that Tama the Station Master has passed away, but it is clear that she has led a very satisfying life. For 16 years (80 cat years), from a stray cat, she has become a hard working station master and later a “superstar of tourism”. Not every cat, or even man, can do as much as Tama did.
After her Shinto-style funeral, she has became a goddess, an honorary which she highly deserves.