29th July 2019: Journey to the West: Osaka → Sakaiminato {Japan, summer 2019}

I was determined to cross as many things on my bucket list as I could in this trip as I could, and that involved some crazy travelling – in this case, two hundred eighty-something kilometres, four trains, and a bit over five hours. From the hotel I took the Midosuji underground line from Doubutsuen-Mae Station to Shin-Osaka station, where I took the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen to Okayama. There, I took the Yakumo Limited express to Yonago, and in Yonago I took the Sakai line to Sakaiminato [境港市] in Tottori prefecture.

Sakaiminato was Mizuki Shigeru’s hometown. Mizuki Shigeru [水木 しげる] was the mangaka who wrote and drew Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro [ゲゲゲの鬼太郎], and he was also a great connoisseur of Japanese mythology, especially yokai. And the town has just… embraced that, with glee. And stamps!

The magic started when I reached Yonago [米子市] Station – both the platform and the train in the Sakai line [境港線] were already all dolled-up for the trip.

The station Sakaiminato-eki [境港駅] also greets you with a huge yokai mural and amazing streetlights in the shape of Medama-oyaji, Kitaro’s father who looks like an eyeball.

As you come out of the station, you are greeted by a bronze statue of Mizuki Shigeru. And as you follow the road and turn the corner you directly go into Mizuki Shigeru Road… but I am getting ahead of myself. Right next to the station there is a a mall-like building that holds, among other things, the tourist information office, where I got a copy of the yokai booklet to carry out the Yokai Stamp Rally [妖怪スタンプラリー]. The booklet was 120 ¥, of course I could not let it go – there were 35 stamps to collect.

As you come out of the station, you are greeted by a bronze statue of Mizuki Shigeru writing among his characters Mizuki Shigeru-sensei Shippitsu-chū no Zō [水木しげる先生執筆中の像], and the Kitaro postbox [鬼太郎ポスト].

And as you follow the road and turn the corner you directly go into Mizuki Shigeru Road. However, when have you read me going into something directly without getting distracted? First I had to see the Yokai World Summit, Sekai Yōkai Kaigi [世界妖怪会議].

Finally I got down to Mizuki Shigeru Road [水木しげるロード] – which features dozens of small yokai statues all along. Shops line to the sides, and a bunch of them have the stamps that you ink on your booklet – and it was hard to get to them, it was so crowded! I walked the right side until the end, then I decided to come back to check into the hotel, which was close to the station, and drop the luggage (looking back I could have just dropped the luggage there, but I was eager to get started). My hotel was gorgeous! It was the most expensive hotel in the whole tip, but it was amazing! Outside it was just a brick building. Inside it was full of wood and tatami, and so was the room. There was an onsen on the upper floor.

I was a bit sad that I only had a night there, because I would have really stayed in that room for hours just lounging around. But there were things to see! So I went out again, and walked the left side of the Mizuki Shigeru Road. Here are some of the many yokai and Gegege no Kitaro characters that I encountered (and stamped) along the road (also, some food, because this was 3pm and I had only had a coffee and a cracker at around 8am).

Of course I also had to visit Yokai Jinja [妖怪神社] on the way (the amount of time and times I had to wait till I was able to take a picture of this without anybody was ridiculous (≧▽≦)).

At the end of the road I had seen the Mizuki Shigeru museum, Mizuki Shigeru Kinen-kan [水木しげる記念館] and I knew that it was open (on a Monday!) till late (in Japan!) so I decided to go there first before I had finished the stamp rally (this is relevant for dates). The Museum features comics, a replica of Mizuki’s office, some items of his mythology-artefact collection, and then replicas of different yokai, a haunted house and so on. For my own future reference, the big (moving, trying to be creepy but only managing to be awfully cute) replicas are: Nurikabe, Shirouneri, Otoroshi, Azukihakari, Betobetosan, Suiko, Akaname, Miagenyudou.

After the museum I somehow ended up at Ominato Jinja [大港神社].

I backtracked to find a couple of stamps that I had missed, including the very last one, at the Sakaiminato Ekimae Police Box, Sakaiminato Ekimae Kōban [境港駅前交番]. With that one I had all my stamps, but it was just around 6pm so the tourist office was already closed.

That did not mean I ran out of things to do! I went to the port to look at the sunset.

Then to look at the fountain Kappa no Izumi [河童の泉], which had been being cleaned every time I had walked by.

Afterwards I walked back to the hotel to enjoy a long bath at the onsen, and I walked out again to see the town by night, because of course it was completely taken by the wannabe creepy atmosphere – at least that was what I thought at first. Then as I was walking down the road, all the lights stated flickering and then they went out with a thunderclap and I jumped! They got me good!

To finish the day, I got free soba at the hotel for dinner! As I mentioned, I would have stayed in that hotel for days on end!

Walked distance: 13641 steps, 9.76 km in one afternoon/evening. It was bloody amazing and I had a blast!