Something has been causing a commotion at JR Shin-Totsukawa Station in Hokkaido! People are crazy about Lala, a stationmaster who also happens to be a dog! Lala is a 10-year-old Shiba Inu owned by a 55-year-old man named Kazumasa Takahashi. Since the station she is serving is facing partial abolition, Takahashi is hoping that Lala’s presence will make a huge change in attracting visitors into the area.
This is not the first time an animal has been appointed as a stationmaster in Japan. This trend was started by Tama, a calico cat who gained fame by serving as a stationmaster and operating officer at Kishi Station on the Kishigawa Line in Wakayama Prefecture. Another example is the monkeys Nehime and Rakan, who were appointed as stationmasters at Hojomachi Station in Hyogo Prefecture when they were still babies in 2010. They were hired in order to attract more visitors to the floundering railroad line.
Two goats, named Kohma and Taro, also performed stationmaster duties at Uzen-Komatsu Station in Yamagata Prefecture. There’s also Tsubasa, a white rabbit stationmaster at the JR Unomachi Station in Seiyo of Ehime Prefecture. The rabbit took the position in January 2011, which was the “Year of the Rabbit”, in the hope of promoting the town.
There’s also a tortoise stationmaster which served JR Ibusuki Station in Ibusuki City of Kagoshima Prefecture. Before Lala, there were already two dog stationmasters appointed. One was a shaggy white Akita named Wasao while the other was a pint-sized Yorkshire Terrier named Maron. Wasao served the Ajigasawa Station in north Aomori Prefecture while Maron served the Oku-Nakayama Kogen Station. Believe it or not, a pair of stationmaster lobsters was also appointed in 2010 to serve the Shishikui Station in Tokushima Prefecture. This led to the establishment of the Lobster Stationmaster Fan Club in 2011.
Lala, a Shiba Inu, has been recently appointed as a stationmaster of JR Shin-Totsukawa Station in Hokkaido. The station was opened on October 10, 1931, and is owned by JR Hokkaido and operated by JR Hokkaido Tourist Rail.
It is the terminus of the Sasho Line from Sapporo and only has a single train service which arrives at 9:28am and departs 12 minutes later. However, as of the moment, it is facing partial abolition due to the small number of customers using the station. To prevent this from happening, Lala took the limelight by being appointed as the new stationmaster in the area. Her owner takes her to the station every Saturday and Sunday as part of her morning walk. She has been drawing many visitors into the area and has surely caught the admiration of people.
Japan, indeed, has an undeniable love for animals. They extend their roles not merely as pets but as useful elements of society. This is clearly seen on their appointment of pets as stationmasters, which is not a common sight in other countries. Talking about Lala, do you think her presence will continuously attract more visitors to the area and help save the train station?