Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cat Earns $10 Million For Japaneses Town

NBC News 10 - With the downturn in the global financial sector, many small towns are scrambling to boost their economy. One town in Japan decided that the key to prosperity was a cat, but not just any cat.

It's the last stop of a country train line - an isolated town of just a few thousand people. The tourists are flocking here to snap what they call a once-in-a-lifetime picture of her, Tama the cat or as she's known to the Wakayama Railway - "Super Station Master."

The cat, in a conductor's hat, greets travelers like Michiko Yoshihara who traveled nearly six hours by train and spent hundreds of dollars to see Tama.

Tama belongs to the grocery store next door but started hanging out at the train station. The train line heard about Tama and decided on a whim to start promoting her as the stop's stationmaster.

Merchandise started flowing and so did the cash, turning Tama into the ticket for one town's turnaround.

Before Tama, the train line was almost always empty and nearing bankruptcy. Not only has she brought this train line back to life, but according to a study at Osaka University, she has single-handedly pumped 10 million US dollars into the local economy.

Seeing is believing, says the town that's living an economic turnaround amid a national and global slowdown.

Why would so many spend so much on a little cat? It's a chance to take a break from the problems facing Japan, says Haruto Maeda, who took the day off work to see Tama.

Tama now lives full-time at the station, with her mom and a friend.

1 comment:

migratingfishswim said...

call me a sucker, but i love this story!

if they wouldn't get scared, i think all train lines and stations, not to mention workplaces would benefit from the calming presence of cats (and dare i say it, dogs)