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Beloved feline stationmaster in southwest Japan dies

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)

OITA -- Nya, the beloved cat stationmaster in the southwest Japan city of Taketa, died in an accident on the night of June 8.

    Nya, whose name means "meow," began to appear around Bungo-Taketa Station on the JR Hohi Line in the Oita Prefecture city more than 10 years ago. With a friendly and gentle character, the cat with dark brown stripes was loved by passengers and others. The Taketa City Tourist Association appointed her as the chief of the local tourist information center in September 2017, and the Taketa Municipal Government appointed her as the stationmaster in April 2018. She had just celebrated her third anniversary as stationmaster this past April.

    On June 9, about 10 people in the tourism industry and others mourned the feline's sudden death in a farewell gathering held at the tourist information center adjacent to the station.

    "She did her best for local tourism and the station," said Tadamasa Hino, 57, who became the human stationmaster in April. "I'm sad to lose the senior I relied on."

    A person prays for Nya, the stationmaster who passed away in an accident, in Taketa, Oita Prefecture, on June 9, 2021. (Mainichi/Nao Ishii)

    "The cat was popular among tourists and was loved," said Megumi Fujino, 48, a member of the association who was taking care of Nya. "I'm sorry about her passing, but I appreciate her long period of service."

    People can sign a book of condolences at the tourist information center for the time being.

    (Japanese original by Nao Ishii, Oita Bureau)

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