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The Famous Cat Station Master Gets Her Own Picture Book

The first-ever picture book featuring Tama, a legendary cat who helped save the Kishigawa railway line in Wakayama prefecture, was released on December 11.

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President Mitsunobu Kojima of Wakayama Electric Railway and station master Nitama unveils the picture book on December 6 in Wakayama City. (©Sankei by Yuko Kitano)

Tama the cat, who was made honorary permanent station master at Kishi Station, is the protagonist of a picture book that has just been released. The book is aptly titled Neko no Ekichosan Tama ("Cat Station Master Tama"), published by Kinnohoshi.

Kishi Station is situated along the Wakayama Electric Railway Kishigawa Line in Kinokawa, Wakayama prefecture. The book was unveiled on December 6 at Wakayama Station, located on the same line. Presiding over the celebration was President Mitsunobu Kojima of Wakayama Electric Railway, accompanied by Nitama, Tama's successor in the esteemed role of cat station master.

The picturebook chronicles Tama's life and her nationwide popularity, which had a huge impact on the railway. It will be available at bookstores across Japan from December 11.

Tama in Kinokawa, Wakayama Prefecture, January 2015. (© Sankei)

Tama's Legacy and Impact

Tama served as the cat station master of Kishi Station for about eight years until her passing in 2015. During her life, fans came from all over Japan to meet the station master in action. Tama's fame played a crucial role in saving the rail line from the brink of closure, and her legacy endures with a devoted fan base.

Wakayama Electric Railway heralds the picture book as the first-ever featuring Tama. The idea for the book was proposed by the publisher Kinnohoshi. Tama's story is brought to life by illustrator and author Toshikado Hajiri.

The book illustrates Tama's journey to becoming the station master, her interactions with passengers, and other adventures along the railway. Wakayama Electric Railway's PR representative has given the book a thumbs up, saying, "The illustrations capture exactly how Tama looked like in real life." Nitama also makes a special appearance in the book.

Christmas Trains

During the book's unveiling at Wakayama Station, President Kojima expressed his wish: "I want everyone who has supported the railway and Tama will read this heartwarming book. My hope is that Wakayama Electric Railway becomes a beloved local railway for children as well." According to President Kojima, Nitama is excited about her mentor's debut but also hopes to get her own book.

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Christmas-themed trains will run until December 25. (©Sankei by Yuko Kitano)

On the day of the book reveal, Wakayama Electric Railway launched Christmas-themed trains. Nitama donned a Santa Claus outfit, adding to the joyful ambiance. The "Ichigo Train" and "Tama Train" are marked with a Christmas wreath at the front. Inside the train, passengers can enjoy festive posters featuring illustrations of Tama. The special trains are set to operate until Christmas Day.

Where to Find the Book

The picture book Neko no Ekichosan Tama comprises 32 pages and is priced at ¥1,540 JPY (approximately 11 USD), tax included. It is available at bookstores nationwide, as well as Kishi Station and Idakiso Station in Wakayama prefecture, and through the Station Master Tama online shop.

President Mitsunobu Kojima and Nitama in a Santa Clause costume on December 6. (©Sankei by Yuko Kitano)

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(Read the article in Japanese.)

Author: The Sankei Shimbun

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