Sakaiminato is a small fishing town in the north-west end of Tottori Prefecture, but it attracts a lot of visitors from all over Japan. That is because famous cartoonist Shigeru Mizuki (1922-2015) was born in this city.
Gegege no Kitaro
Mizuki’s most famous and successful manga (Japanese cartoon) is ‘Gegege no Kitaro’, a story of spirit-monsters. Main character Kitaro looks like a human being, but he has a special power; he can use magic to fight with vicious monsters to protect the human beings.
The first moving animation based on this manga was published in 1968, which makes it one of the oldest animation series. Most Japanese people know about it, and many can sing along to its theme song. It goes like this: “Ge ge gegege no ge, monsters don’t have to wake up early in the morning. It is fun to be a monster because there are no schools and no examinations for us.” So, many children want to be monsters!
Mizuki Shigeru Road
The main street of Sakaiminato is called ‘Mizuki Shigeru Road’ because he was born here and the most famous person from this city. All over the street you can find statues from “Gegege no Kitaro”. The total number of statues is 177.
The street starts at the train station, Sakaiminato Station. The station and also the trains are decorated with the characters. Even the police box, taxi’s, post boxes, and stores are decorated with Kitaro characters. So it is very interesting to just walk around this street. You can find souvenirs of Kitaro, too.
Mizuki Shigeru Museum
If you walk about 10 minutes from Sakaiminato Station you will find the Mizuki Shigeru Museum where Kitaro welcomes you at the entrance. It is not only Kitaro, but other works by the same author as well that are exhibited here. Themes are fantasy, war, history, etc. ‘Kappa no Sanpei’ is also a well-known cartoon. You can also learn about Mizuki’s biography, and you will come to understand how he had to struggle to become a famous cartoonist. They also explain a lot about ghost stories from different parts of Japan.
Information of Mizuki Shigeru Museum
Access: 10 minutes walk from Sakaiminato Station (JR Line)
Entrance: 700 for adults/500 yen for senior and junior high school students/300 yen for elementary school students
Hours: 9:30 – 18:00