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Japanese 'cat stationmaster' celebrates 3 years in office with locals

TAKETA, Oita -- The "cat stationmaster" of JR Bungo-Taketa Station on the Hohi Line in this southwestern Japan city marked three years in office on April 4 with a celebration drawing some 30 people.

    The partygoers spent time interacting with stationmaster Nya, a brown tabby aged 12 or 13, and taking photos with her.

    Nya, the "stationmaster" of JR Bungo-Taketa Station, celebrates her third anniversary in office at the station in Taketa, Oita Prefecture, on April 4, 2021. (Mainichi/Hyelim Ha)

    Nya, which literally means "meow" in Japanese, was originally a stray, but wandered into the station about 10 years ago and simply settled in. She is friendly and gentle, and sometimes the 4-kilogram feline falls asleep on the laps of people in the waiting room.

    Her adorable gestures quickly made her popular, and the city's tourism association appointed her as the "director" of the tourist information center adjacent to the station in September 2017, and on April 8, 2018, the city named her the "stationmaster."

    On April 4, Tadamasa Hino, the 57-year-old human stationmaster appointed just at the beginning of the month, said, "Nya is three years my senior as stationmaster. I'd like to work together with her and do my best."

    Stationmaster Tadamasa Hino, who took office at the beginning of April 2021, holds "stationmaster" Nya at JR Bungo-Taketa Station in Taketa, Oita Prefecture, on April 4, 2021. (Mainichi/Hyelim Ha)

    The city's tourism association presented Nya with a wooden box full of cat food and cat snacks as a token of appreciation. In addition, original postcards and cookies featuring the cat were distributed to attendees.

    Megumi Fujino, 48, an employee of the association and Nya's godmother, said, "I hope Nya will continue to put health first and entertain tourists at her own pace."

    Minato Miyahara, 8, a third grader at the local Taketa Elementary School, said, "Nya is fluffy and cute. I want her to stay at the station forever."

    (Japanese original by Hyelim Ha, Oita Bureau)

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