Wakayama was my 45th prefecture! Also adding a new blog post category today ^^
It’s so near Kansai airport, it’s hard to believe I left it for almost the last to explore. Today I am sharing about one of the highlights of my Wakayama adventure – Themed trains!
In my previous blog post I shared about the Hello Kitty Shinkansen run by JR-WEST and today we are exploring other super cute local trains in Wakayama Prefecture, and one of it is the famous Tama Densha, running from Wakayama Station to Kishi Station, where you get to meet a feline Super Station Master!
The original station master was Tama, a Calico cat who was on duty from 2007 until 2015. A few followers actually told me that they met Tama before she passed away at 16 years old. She was the first feline station master in the world and remained one of the most loved cat in Japan even after her death.
The story behind Tama was quite a touching one. She was born near Kishi Station by her mother who was an abandoned cat. At that point of the time, Kishigawa Line was facing a serious crisis of shutting down due to decreasing passengers that caused a massive deficit, and eventually Kishi Line became an unmanned station, leaving only Tama there to greet passengers.
As Tama was very well loved by the local passengers, the railway company decided to nominate Tama as the official Station Master, and soon she became popular not only to the locals, but all over Japan and even around the world. The increase of passengers using the line helped to keep the railway business alive.
Tama was then promoted to Super Station Master and awarded many titles for her contribution to local tourism, and 2013 she was further promoted as the Honorary President of Wakayama Electric Railway. Tama passed away in 2015 and was enshrined at a nearby Shinto cat shrine as spirit goddess Tama Daimyōjin (たま大明神). If you are in the area, you can also go visit and pay respect to this miracle cat who saved a railway company.
After Tama’s passing, Nitama (literally Second Tama), a rescued cat originally from Okayama was elected as her successor after years of training at Idakiso Station.
Today we are going to meet her!
Up to the platform from Wayakama Station to board the train.
So cute T_T.
Before that, yu should know that there are actually 4 themed trains run by Wakayama Electric Railway:
Try to ride all of them!! You can buy a day pass from Wakayama Electric Railway, but guess what? If you already have a JR-WEST Kansai WIDE Area Pass, you get to ride it for free even though it’s operated by a different railway company! I love how JR-WEST has all these awesome collaborations!
You can read my blog post on JR-WEST Kansai WIDE Area pass here.
Here it comes! I’m boarding it with my JR-WEST Kansai WIDE Area pass. ^^
The entire train is wrapped with illustration of Super Station Master Tama. And it’s not just cute on the outside.
Here’s the interior! The train was decorated in motifs and colors that resembles Tama. Orange, white and black.
You can find illustration of Tama everywhere all over the train.
Each seat is different too, you will see random seat patterns like this…
Or even in Tama-motifs!
Definitely feels really special as this is one of the most elaborately decorated themed trains I’ve been on!
Feels like you just boarded a train in an anime! 😀
They even have a special seat for… babies? Children? Cat??? And next to it is a bronze memorial plate of Tama to have her remembered by everyone always.
It’s a pretty small train with only two cars. You may walk to the first car and discover even more things!
No idea why but I spotted Doraemon!
Met a Malaysian student on board who came here just to meet the feline station master too.
There’s even a mini library for your reading pleasure, even though it’s a pretty short ride.
Of course, you will want to get down at the last stop, Kishi Station.
The station was rebuilt to resemble the face of a cat with pointy ears ^^.
The train will also stop for quite a good while so you can take your time to have your picture taken with it. ^^
Welcome to Tama Museum!
And we are all here for one thing…
Make sure you check her calendar to not miss her on duty. The last I check, she is on duty every day except Wed and Thu, from 10:00 to 16:00.
That’s Nitama the current station master of Kishi Station. ^^
There’s also a cafe for you to relax and have a cuppa.
Even the toilet is Tama-themed.
Here’s a souvenir shop for you to bring some goodies back home. The selection of souvenirs was actually quite impressive. You can find lots of original Tama goods, and even local Wakayama snacks in Tama packaging. I recommend buying the Umeboshi! It was really delicious ^^
For those of you who can’t decide, there’s also the value Lucky Bag.
As most people come here to meet Nitama and leave immediately, this will be the only place you get to buy something and contribute to the local tourism business.
Gave my support!!
On the way back, you can catch a different train back!
And yes! You can ride this train with your JR-WEST Kansai WIDE Area pass!
Omoden stands for “Omocha Densha” – literally “Toy Train”.
On the way back to Wakayama Station, we met Tama again! Bye bye Tama Densha.
Omoden is also very vibrantly designed with a… bassinet? I guess it’s very family friendly since they play on the whole toy-theme.
OMG have you seen gatcha gatcha on a train????? Here you do!!
Unleash your inner child and spend a few coin spinning for some original goods!
There are also lots of nostalgic old-time toys on display.
That’s all for today! There are a lot more to explore in Wakayama Prefecture, but today you found at least one reason to visit. ^^