Located in Wakayama prefecture is the Wakayama Electric Railway which only has one train line, the Kishigawa Line which stretches 14.3km from Wakayama to Kishi Station with 14 stations between, and is also known as the Wakayama Cat train! The train runs from end to end within 30 minutes and runs through beautiful rural farmland and towns.
It is the only train line with a cat as a station master, with Tama serving from 2007 to 2015 until her passing in June 2015, when she became an ‘Honorable Eternal Stationmaster’ and is the goddess of Wakayama Electric Railway and Local Public Transport. There is a Tama Shrine that was built in the Kishi station platform.
Wakayama Cat train has gained popularity, and now Nitama who used to work at Idakiso station succeeded in Tama’s position and is now nicknamed Tama the 2nd Stationmaster, and has working hours, usually on Wednesday and Thursday. This might change irregularly, so be sure to check out their Official website.
They have special-themed trains that run throughout their tracks, and their most well-known train is the Tama Train, and it definitely has to be one of the cutest trains in the world! There are 101 Tama drawn on the train body. Even the whole interior is decorated with Tama all over it! I was very lucky that I could go on the Tama train as soon as I got to platform 9 since there are about 4 train themes and every train runs every 30 mins. Every themed train is cute, but I really wanted to make sure to go on this one!
The other themed trains include Ichigo (Strawberry) Train, a train that is boarded with natural wood, and strawberry themed. Omocha (Toys) Train, is a train with many toys with capsule toys inside the carts. Umeboshi Train, inspired by plums, which are Wakayama’s biggest producer, is decorated with Japanese-style screens and bamboo blinds that makes you feel like you are in a luxury Japanese-style train. I had the chance of riding the Umeboshi train as well, and the interior was truly peaceful and relaxing.
Make sure you get a one-day pass if you plan to meet Tama at Kishi Station, or explore the different themed trains. It is just 800 yen per day and can be bought at Platform 9 in Wakayama station. This one day pass already saves money since the one-way trip to Keshi station is 410 yen! Make sure to talk to the employee at Wakayama station before going on the train.
During the 30 minute ride from Wakayama to Kishi, it was so much fun to look around the train carts while looking at the Japanese countryside pass by us. Most of the riders were there to commute from their home and work, and I thought about how relaxing and fun it must be to be able to ride these trains every day.
Once we got to Kishi station, only a handful of people were there to admire Tama-chan. Kishi station has a cafe, gift store, and Tama’s “office”. Make sure you step outside the station because the station itself is shaped like a cat!
Wakayama Electric Railway Official website
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