Wakayama Electric Railway has found a fitting feline to replace Tama, the late Kishi Station mascot and stationmaster.
After Tama—the kitty who first revitalized the failing railway by drawing throngs of visitors who came to see her decked out in her conductor’s hat—passed away in June, she was honored in a Shinto ceremony. Now the grieving process is coming to a close as her successor has been named: Nitama, who was once Tama’s assistant stationmaster, and who graduated from Cat Stationmaster Training School, another precedent set by her predecessor.
Railway spokesperson Hitofumi Ino was quoted by CNN on Monday as saying that Nitama “doesn’t dislike wearing a hat” and is, in fact, a “beauty cat” in comparison to her predecessor. And aside from being aesthetically pleasing, she is also a seasoned stationmaster, having held the position at Idakiso Station, just down the line from Kishi Station, before working alongside Tama in 2012.
Wakayama Electric Railway president Mitsunobu Kojima told reporters that appointing Nitama only made sense because “she had teaching experience from Tama directly,” before adding: “Tama was very mild and she seldom got angry, though she was strict with her subordinate Nitama.”
Tama was 16 years old (80 in human years), and died of heart complications on June 22. Shortly after her passing, The Japan Times quoted a statement from Wakayama Governor Yoshinobu Nisaka that described the then stationmaster as a “superstar extremely popular in and out of Japan who contributed greatly to promoting tourism in our prefecture. I am filled with deep sorrow and appreciation.”
Nitama’s promotion comes 50 days after Tama’s death, which is an appropriate duration according to the Shinto religion’s rules for the appointment of successors of feline stationmasters.
The Telegraph notes that Nitama was born in Okayama City before being adopted by the railway, after being found under a car on a rainy day. The article added that Nitama paid a visit to Tama’s shrine, before donning her predecessor’s cap and taking on the role as Kishi’s new stationmaster.