In March 2012 I first learned of Tama the Cat that lived in Japan. The town where the station was located was in dire financial trouble and the station was in serious danger of being closed but one cat turned things around.
As it turns out, Tama the Cat saved the day because of her appeal to tourists. People living in town frequently came to visit Tama, so in 2007, in a desperate attempt to save the station, the railway operator decided to try promoting Tama as station master. This turned out to be a smart move, travelers would stop at the station to see Tama sporting in a station master’s hat and collar. The number of passengers on the line jumped from 1.92 million in 2005 to 2.27 million in 2014.
Tama became such a draw that photos of and other merchandise bearing her likeness also sold well, leading to her appointment to acting president of Wakayama Electric Railway in January 2013.
This additional revenue helped save the train station and subsequently the town, leading to Tama being named the “10 million dollar cat.”
Tama passed away on Monday at age 16. A memorial service is planned for Sunday to honor her.
Here is a video of Tama in action as station master:
Rest well, Tama, you will be missed!