Tama had been cared for by owners of a convenience store located at Kishi Station for the past eight years. Tourists flocked from all over to catch a glimpse and a photograph of the unusual station attendant. She was credited with boosting the number of people travelling along the Kishigawa Line by 55,000, adding an additional 1.1 billion yen (£5.7 million) to the local economy. Over 3,000 people attended the elaborate funeral for Tama held on June 28th. Rest In Peace Tama, you were and still are a little treasure.Wakayama Electric Railway President Mitsunobu Kojima thanked her for her achievement, and said Tama will be enshrined at a nearby cat shrine next month. Before Tama’s arrival, the local Kishigawa Line was near-bankrupt; and the station was unmanned as it had lost its last staff. 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. “The rest was a miracle, and his company’s success story also gave hope for dozens of other struggling tiny local train lines”, he said. “Tama-chan really emerged like a savior, a goddess”. It was truly my honor to have been able to work with her,” Kojima said in his speech. Her success in the role resulted in an award from the prefectural governor of Wakayama in 2008 and a promotion to deputy president of Wakayama Electric Railway in 2013. Among those mourning her death was Yoshinobu Nisaka, who said: “Tama won a great popularity at home and abroad as a super star of tourism. At the news of her loss, I express my deep sorrow and great gratitude.” Tama will reportedly be succeeded by her feline stationmaster apprentice Nitama, but undoudtedly will never be fogotten..
Cat of the Month ~ May 2015
Madeira Island lies 360 miles west of the African city of Morocco, in the north Atlantic Ocean. Pontinha Island lies just twelve feet from the island of Madeira (well in fact, its now connected to the mainland by a harbour wall!). Nevertheless Pontinha is a true Principality ruled over by a self proclaimed Prince Ranato II. Pontinha is also ruled over by a whole bunch of friendly cats!
The Cats of Pontinha Island (it seems) were the waifs and strays of Funchal town, but they are now in the protection of the state of Pontinha. They are quite well fed and seemed to be in fairly good health if a little weather beaten by the North Atlantic gales.
We happened on this curious country of cats while taking our summer break. At the bottom of the steps we climbed to the lookout tower, the first of these creatures came into view. A black kitten with a beautiful face and a yawn that would swallow a whale. More cats appeared as we climbed further up the fortified tower.
On reaching the lookout platform yet more moggies were taking shelter from the sun. One or two stirred to greet us. Perhaps they know that our small contributions would be paying for their meals of fish scraps.
It is said that as far back in time as 1419 the first voyagers to Madeira took refuge on this tiny outcrop before stepping onto its neighboring island – the Island of Madeira.
Cut into this natural rock formation are several rooms of the ancient Fort of St. Jose which helped guard Funchal Harbour for at least two centuries. Much of the fort was destroyed in the 19th century when the harbour wall was built. What survived was sold under Royal Charter in 1903 and then became an independent State.