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Monday, May 5, 2014

Tama-- A Railway Station Master Cat In Japan

Japan's rapidly ageing workforce may be able to draw some encouragement from a cat that continues to draw tourists from Asia in her role as station master of small train despite advancing age. Tama who turns 15 in April, continues to attract tens of thousands of tourists each year after seven years on job at the Kishi station, in Wakayama, western Japan. Her appointment helped to turn around the rural area that had been hit, like many parts of Japan, by declining population. Tama's work is not actually demanding, consisting mostly of sitting around, having her picture taken with tourists. The station and Tama, of course attracts tourists mainly from Hong Kong and Taiwan. In all some 20,000 visitors from Asia visit the small town annually and officials say the Recent Lunar New Year Holiday may prove to have been even a bigger hit with hundreds of tourists visiting on many days. "the idea is clever, as cat has become the symbol of railway, attracting many tourists," said Ka Wing Wu, a 22-year-old student who came from Hong Kong with his friends to see Tama. From her initial appointment in January 2007, Tama has been on fast track for promotion, being named as deputy president in 2013. Not surprising given the key role she has played in attracting the tourists and helping a rail line that was sinking deeper into the red annually as passenger figures fell down every year. In 2008, Tama was given a special award by the prefectural governor for providing Y 1.1 billion ($10.8) boost to the region.

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