Tama was named the head of Kishi Station on the Kishigawa Line operated by Wakayama Electric Railway in January 2007. She attracted a great deal of interest and made a significant contribution to preserving the line and increasing its revenues. Wakayama Electric Railway took over the line from Nankai Electric Railway, which had suffered financial difficulties.
Tama died in 2015 but her fame lives on, and has even been growing. In China, there are plans to publish a picture book featuring Tama alongside a popular Chinese anime character, while an animation is planned in the United States.
"We're grateful to Tama, who continues to bring joy to areas along the line," an official at the company said.
Wakayama Electric Railway introduced other cat stationmasters to follow Tama. A cat named Nitama is a so-called super stationmaster, and Yontama is a stationmaster for the Kishigawa Line.
In Okayama, where the Wakayama Electric Railway's operating company is located, a cat called Sun Tama Tama is also gaining popularity.
Last year, a Chinese-language children's book depicting the life of Tama was published in China, and there are plans for a live-action movie as well.
Tama and Ali character mascots and Nitama attended the event. The picture book is scheduled to be published before the end of this year.
A foreign film crew also came for the birthday event and filmed near the station. They did not disclose the details, but said they would produce a video featuring cats. According to Wakayama Electric Railway, there is a plan to create an animation starring Tama in the United States.
"Tama continues to live forever in heaven, and it spreads the appeal of Wakayama Electric Railway to the rest of the world. We learned from Tama that it's possible to send information to the world even from a regional city," Kojima said.
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