In Japan in 2004, an electric railway station named Kishi Station was on the brink of dying out. But when a stray calico cat showed up by the station, it soon became adopted as a ‘mascot’ for the railway station because of how often she showed up there. Thanks to her status as a ‘stationmaster’, the railway station avoided being shut down because citizens and fans of the new mascot demanded to keep it open. Tama’s presence caused an increase of 17% in passenger attendance, and added 1.1 billion yen ($10,260,285) to the local economy.
Even though she is just a ordinary cat, Tama has had a lot of merchandise created in her name and image. Many fans buy plushies of her, and she was featured on Animal Planet in an episode of, “Must Love Cats.” As her popularity grew, so did citizens’ respect and admiration for her.
Upon her death in 2015, she was elevated to a ‘Shinto Goddess’, and thousands of people attended her funeral. Not to worry though, next in line for the stationmaster status is Tama’s apprentice cat, Nitama.