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Slow Life Japan

Tama Chan – Our New Garden Master

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At Slow Life Japan we inherited three cats, Tama-Chan, Kobe-Chan and Mi-Chan. How Tama-chan came to be named so by Jonathan was inspired by an article in the orbituary section of British newspaper the Economist dated 2nd July 2015, called Tama-Chan, The Cat’s Miaow. 

To read the full article visit

The story is about Tama, who although was a cat, was also the stationmaster of Kishi station and vice-president of the Wakayama Electric. A level which many people can’t get to and quite a responsibility! Tama was found at the station and being a Tortoise shell immediately stood out as these breed of cats have a long history in Japan of being associated with good fortune. People of all kinds would often and still do keep them around, look after them and give them special roles in return for the expected prosperity and a bit of rodent clearance. 

Kishi station was in dire financial trouble, and after succesfully starting her career bringing fortune to a local greengrocer, Tama was appointed to the role and soon the number of visitors to the station increased as well as the profits by as much as 10% in the first year. She became so popular that people came just to see her, and soon she had her own special cat train made, the Tama-densha. The station was even rebuilt to look like Tama-chan and a whole tourist industry with a cafe and souvenirs was built up around her.  She worked strict hours, 9 -5 with Sunday’s off and even had her own office and uniform. However, the work was fairly easy which involved snoozing around the place and rubbing up against visitors legs. 

According to the Japanese principle of promotion by seniority, she rose effortlessly to super-stationmaster and honorary division chief. She was made an operating officer of the WER in recognition of her contribution to profits, the first female to be so honoured, and then became company vice-president.

When Tama died, thousands attended her funeral at the station and the president of the railway company announced that she would be honoured as a goddess and buried in a Shinto shrine. Since then a new station master has taken over, a cat called Nitama. 

So, as of today our very own Tama-chan has now been appointed Slow Life Japan Garden Master, so it looks like Jonathan is now second in command!

92 thoughts on “Tama Chan – Our New Garden Master”

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