Report: Tama-chan Boosts Business
For only the price of cat food, a kitty in a train station in rural Japan has benefited the local economy.
In April 2008, Lets Japan wrote about Tama-chan (Cat in Hat Can’t Quit), the official hat-wearing stationmaster feline at Kishi train station on the Kishigawa Line in Wakayama Prefecture.
Tama-the-cat was appointed in January 2007. Since then, railway officials say 55,000 more people used the line than would normally be expected.
AFP reports on a study by Katsuhiro Miyamoto, a professor at Kansai University’s School of Accountancy.
The research released earlier this month shows sales of Tama-chan picture books, DVDs, and other goods, brought the local economy as much as 1.1 billion yen (10.44 million dollars) in 2007.
Tama-the-kitten was found on the street and brought to the station by the owner of a nearby shop, then kept by the owner of a grocery store next to the station, before becoming the cat-in-residence at Kishi station.
Tama-chan has recently been promoting the railway’s "Strawberry Photo and Sketch" contest for its "Strawberry Train". The contest deadline is October 30, 2008. The strawberry-themed train debuted on the first anniversary of the establishment of the Wakayama Electric Railway. The line had been part of the Nankai Electric Railway until April 1, 2006.
Strawberries are grown throughout Japan. Wakayama is not especially known for strawberry production.