Japanese railworkers hold funeral for 'stationmaster' cat who helped save railway line from bankruptcy

Well known feline helped save the local Kishigawa railway line from bankruptcy after joining staff in 2007

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The Independent Online

A cat appointed stationmaster of a struggling Japanese railway has been mourned by railworkers at its funeral and elevated to the status of "honourable eternal stationmaster".

Tama, who died of heart failure earlier this month, was well-known among staff and visitors at the Kishi station in western Japan.

The calico cat joined the staff of the local Kishigawa railway line in 2007 when she was appointed stationmaster and given a custom-made stationmaster's cap and a jacket.

Her fame brought in large numbers of tourists to the station, giving a boost to the the Kishigawa railway line which had been close to bankruptcy, as well as the local economy.

Tama's death was marked in a Shinto-style funeral on Sunday.

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Tama's fame brought in tourists, giving a welcome boost to the local economy (Getty)

Speaking at Tama's funeral, Mitsunobu Kojima, the president of Wakayama Electric Railway, thanked Tama and said she would be enshrined at a nearby cat shrine next month.

Mr Kojima said appointing Tama as stationmaster was initially an excuse to keep the cat at the station.

"But she was really doing her job," he said. "Tama-chan really emerged like a saviour, a goddess. It was truly my honour to have been able to work with her."

During her tenure, Tama had contributed an estimated 1.1 billion yen ($8.9 million) to the local economy, Mr Kojima said.

Another calico cat named Nitama, now an apprentice stationmaster, is to take over Tama's duties.

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