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Cat clock inspired by feline stationmaster unveiled in west Japan's Wakayama

Cat stationmaster Nitama and Wakayama Electric Railway Co. President Mitsunobu Kojima are seen below a cat clock with ears and whiskers, in the western Japan city of Wakayama on Oct. 14, 2021. (Mainichi/Ryota Hashimoto)

WAKAYAMA -- A west Japan railway station has unveiled its new cat-themed clock replete with black and brown pointy ears and white whiskers, in a design inspired by its feline stationmaster.

    The clock is designed to resemble calico cat Nitama, the "super stationmaster" in charge of all stations on the Wakayama Electric Railway Co.'s Kishigawa Line. It was unveiled at Wakayama Station on Oct. 14, "Railway Day" in Japan. According to Wakayama Electric Railway, it is rare for a station platform clock to be designed based on a cat.

    A cat clock with ears and whiskers is seen at Wakayama Station in the western Japan city of Wakayama on Oct. 14, 2021. (Mainichi/Ryota Hashimoto)

    In July, a group of residents and others working to preserve the Kishigawa Line donated a round clock with a 70-centimeter diameter to celebrate the line's 15th anniversary since operations began. Wakayama Electric Railway President Mitsunobu Kojima, 76, thought the clock would be "cuter with ears and whiskers," and this recent project has brought his idea to life.

    Among the attendees at the unveiling ceremony held on the platform at Wakayama Station were President Kojima and cat stationmaster Nitama -- who the prefecture made a "Knight" in August for her contributions to conveying Wakayama's charms across Japan.

    President Kojima commented, "I think there are people feeling down amid the coronavirus crisis. I hope that by looking at the clock, they will feel happier and lighter."

    Starting Oct. 14 at Idakiso Station and other locations, the railway operator has also been selling a limited run of 500 entrance ticket packages containing editions for all 14 stations, and a plastic folder with an image of Nitama, as a way to commemorate Nitama's "Knight" title.

    On the same day it was also announced that the Tama Densha Museum train that was under refurbishment will commence service on Dec. 4. About 18.89 million yen (around $165,000) was crowdfunded between February and May 2021 for expenses to remodel the Omocha Densha train into the Tama Densha Museum train.

    (Japanese original by Ryota Hashimoto, Wakayama Bureau)

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