Cat stationmaster unveils clock for 'Railway Day'

NHK -- Oct 16
Japan marked "Railway Day" on Thursday, the anniversary of the opening of the country's first railway on October 14, 1872, between Shimbashi Station in Tokyo and Yokohama.

Wakayama Electric Railway in western Japan set up a clock with the image of a cat's face on a platform at the Kishigawa Line's Wakayama Station to celebrate the occasion.

A calico cat, Nitama, uncovered the clock in the opening ceremony on Thursday. She has been working as a stationmaster at another station on the line.

The clock, measuring 70 centimeters in diameter, has black and brown ears and three white whiskers on both sides.

Nitama is the second cat to serve as the stationmaster, after the first cat, Tama, passed away in 2015.

Officials at the railway company say Tama has helped to revitalize tourism in Wakayama Prefecture.

The company plans to introduce sightseeing trains in December to revive tourism as the coronavirus pandemic subsides.

Wakayama Electric Railway President Kojima Mitsunobu said the coronavirus has brought a sense of stagnation to the country, but he hopes people will visit the station to see the clock.

The 14-kilometer long Kishigawa Line runs through rural areas between Wakayama Station and Kishi Station in neighboring Kinokawa City.