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Wednesday, 12th August 2015
In General Japan News,

New cat follows in Tama's stationmaster footsteps

A Japanese railway station that has been mourning the death of its stationmaster cat since June has appointed another feline in her place.

Tama the cat became a much-loved tourist attraction at Kishi Station in Kinokawa, Wakayama Prefecture, after being given the role in 2007.

She was seen wearing a stationmaster's hat and even assigned an office by the Wakayama Electric Railway Company.

When she passed away earlier this year, there was an outpouring of grief from the nation, as well as from visitors from overseas.

Now, another calico cat called Nitama has filled Tama's paw prints, as the company wants to continue the tradition, which has brought in much tourist revenue to the line.

She is five-years-old and will enjoy all the same privileges as her predecessor, with her wages being paid in food.

Nitama may find it hard to live in the shadow of the former stationmaster, however, as a shrine to Tama has been unveiled on the platform.

Two small statues of Tama with beckoning paws are included in the Shinto memorial, which are reminiscent of maneki-nekos.

These lucky charms can be seen throughout Japan in restaurants and other attractions.

The Kishigawa Line was at risk of closing down when Tama was originally appointed and her human predecessor's salary was no longer viable.

Japan's most famous cat turned the line's fortunes around, with many people travelling huge distances to see her in her famous hat.

Mitsunobu Kojima, president of the railway, described Tama as a saviour and hopes that Nitama will help to encourage visitors to this part of Japan.

Tama, who died at the age of 16, was also something of a trendsetter, as stations throughout Japan saw the success she brought and enlisted cats, dogs and rabbits to carry out similar roles.

Cats are revered across Japan, where the concept of cat cafes originated. In just about any city or town in the country, it is possible to enjoy a hot drink while petting a fluffy feline.