Working cats: Station master

Cats are loved all over the world, but one place where they are particularly adored is in Japan. Did you know there is even a train station in Japan that has a cat as station master? Let's learn more about this cat station master!

The time was 2004 and, according to,  due to declining use, the owners of the Kishigawa railroad line decided to close the line. However, local residents were eager for it to continue, and the Wakayama Electric Railway Co. took over the Kishigawa Line in 2006. When, they did, one of the issues that arose were cats that had been taken care of at a store close to Kishi Station. The owner of the store wanted to move on and approached the president of Wakayama Electric Railway to see if the cats could stay at the station. So, president Kojima Mitsunobu came to meet the cats and decided to let them stay.  The BBC says one of the cats, Tama, was named stationmaster in 2007, and she got a custom stationmaster's hat to go with the job! 2 other cats also stayed as her assistants. 

Visitors from across Japan started to visit Kishi station to get a glimpse of  stationmaster Tama. Word of the Japan cat train station began to grow so that visitors from overseas would also come to see the cat station master in her station master's hat! She was hands on as station master, often meeting guests from a table near the ticket gates, or working in her office, once a ticket booth, but now containing a litter box and bed for the dedicated station master cat!

In lieu of a salary, the BBC reports that Tama recieved all the cat food she needed, and she did such a good job as station master that she garnered several promotions. In 2008 she was even knighted!

By 2010, they had so many visitors that they remodeled Kisha station with a cat themed look and station master Tama's name over the roof. According to you can even enjoy foods, beverages and souvenirs inspired by the Tama the station master! While in the souvenir shop, you can also check out a painted portrait of Tama, along with several photographs of her in her time at Kishi station. 

They also decorated the trains with pawprints and cartoon images of Tama herself. According to the BBC, when the doors open at each station, you can even hear a recording of Tama meowing through the PA system! 

And, things were just getting started! reports that by 2013, Tama, station master cat, became acting president of Wakayama Electric Railroad, and in 2014 earned the title of Ultra Stationmaster. Unfortunately, Tama passed away in 2015. Thousands attended her funeral, and she was posthumously awarded the title of Honorary Eternal Stationmaster! 

Kishi Station continued on having cat station masters and according to, there is even a training school for cat stationmasters where cats are assessed for their aptitude for the role, like being friendly to lots of different people, and of course the ability to wear a stationmaster's hat! Let's hope the cat station masters of Kishi station continue for a long time!