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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Japan's Train Cats

I am a dog person, but only have a cat right now… or maybe I'm pet person… the cat and I get along very well… she comes when I call her, sleeps beside me, knows I'm the chief backscratcher, feeder and poop cleaner… we have a pretty good relationship…

I've only had Daphne for one year, whoops… I renamed her Daffy because I have an aunt Daphne, plus there's that whole Scooby Doo thing, and I didn't want to confuse things…

Anyhow… Daffy and I have a good working relationship… but she still isn't pulling in tourists like what is going on in Japan.

In Kinokawa, Wakayama-kenKishi Eki (Kishi train station) to be exact… has a new stationmaster… and it's a cat… and if you think the Japanese are screwy to name a cat a stationmaster in 2015, just know that this cat is actually replacing another cat for the position.

Okay… let's start at the beginning…

Tama the cat, beside a 'Japanese action figure' that waves customers in to the train station. Ka-ching!
Back in 2007, a female cat named Tama was appointed stationmaster of Kishi Eki.

Now, she didn't have to perform any duties, except sit around and look pretty in her stationmaster hat… but by doing that, she actually saved the train station.

Like anywhere, if something isn't being used, it gets taken out or closed down… and that was going to happen to Kishi Eki… but with Tama's appointment as stationmaster, Kishi Eki suddenly became a tourist destination for a nation that has, at times, an unhealthy love affair with all things cute.

Basically, Tama helped promote tourism in Wakayama.

So… when the poor cat died this past April at the age of 16, after waiting 50 days to allow for proper Shinto mourning for the spirit of Tama, Wakayama Electric Railway president Kojima Mitsunobu (surname first) announced that Nitama (Tama the second???), Tama's old assistant stationmaster, would move up to succeed as the new Kishi Eki stationmaster.

Nitama is still getting used to wearing the heavy hat of command.
Now, it's a very nice story, right? But just to add that complete bit of Japanese wackiness we all know, love and expect, to ensure that Nitama, 5, does a good job, she first had to graduate from Cat Stationmaster Training School.

Obviously this isn't a real thing, but Kishi Eki created one just to build more cat publicity… and lo and behold, kitty cat Nitama passed the course as easily as a hairball, seeing as all she had to so was demonstrate a relaxed attitude to working with people and a willingness to wear a stationmaster cap.

The whole thing reminds me of a 1973 episode of The Brady Bunch television show called Adios Johnny Bravo - where Greg Brady got a gig as a singer on a record because he 'fit the suit'.



 Man - I love it! Next time you hear your favorite pop star sing, just know it's probably been electronically enhanced like it was for Johnny Bravo…. fit the suit… brilliant!!!! Why I was able to remember a line from a television show I watched once from 42 years ago, but not recall that I had to buy cat food on the way home today is just one of life's little mysteries.

Okay… back to cats… apparently Nitama doesn't 'dislike' wearing hats, according to Ino Hitofumi (surname first), a spokesperson of the Ryobi Group, which oversees the railway.

Yes… what cat would 'like' anything? It just has to 'tolerate', and apparently Nitama does that well enough.

Okay… you want more wacky… just picture an old Japanese man saying the following with a straight face:

"The reason I appointed Nitama as a successor to Tama is that she had teaching experience from Tama directly," says Mitsunobu. "Tama was very mild and she seldom got angry, though she was strict with her subordinate Nitama."

Yes… she was named new stationmaster because she had already been trained by the best.

See? Love that wacky Japanese crap!

Should you care, Nitama was apparently born in Okayama-shi, about 250 kilometers from Wakayama… and was found under a car on a rainy day… and was later adopted by Okayama Electric Tramway.

I guess she was transferred previously, to have worked as the assistant station master at Kishi Eki for the Wakayama Eletric Railway.

Before the train pulls out of the station (there's a joke there somewhere), check out the photo at the very top.

Now picture the wife of the man holding Nitama:

WIFE: "So, how was work today, dear?"

STATION WORKER: "I held a cat's a$$ while it was sworn into a job that should have been mine."

And that is why he is a dog-person.

Daffy: I'm glad he doesn't own a miniature cap. I wouldn't want to mess up my hair.
Nyan-nyan,
Andrew Joseph
PS: Nyan, is the Japanese word used to describe the sound of a cat's meow.

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