Travel Reports by Aaron Chong view profile of Aaron Chong

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May 20, 2019 - Matsue Horanenya - Sakaiminato

Another day of sightseeing has come to kill time before the second day of the Horanenya Festival on Wednesday. It's time to unleash my inner otaku and enter the manga world of Tottori Prefecture!

Detective Conan livery train!

Although considered to be a backwater prefecture, Tottori is the home prefecture of two of the most famous manga artists in Japan: Gosho Aoyama, creator of the internationally popular series Detective Conan, and the legendary Shigeru Mizuki, creator of Gegege no Kitaro. I paid a visit to Shigeru Mizuki's hometown of Sakaiminato, not far from Matsue. A trip to Sakaiminato had been a must for me in the Sanin Region, especially after Mizuki-sensei's death in 2015.

Although Gegege no Kitaro was not published in Malaysia, I happened to know Mizuki-sensei through 'Gegege no Nyobo', an NHK asadora about Shigeru Mizuki's life told from the perspective of his wife. After watching 'Gegege no Nyobo', I was amazed and touched by Mizuki-sensei's life and achievements. It was fascinating to know that Mizuki-sensei was able to draw manga with only one arm despite losing his left arm during World War 2 when he was stationed in Papua New Guinea. Mizuki-sensei was the one who made the yokai (demon) genre popular and without his contribution, I would never be able to read my favorite manga, Yuyu Hakusho.

You can imagine my excitement when I saw a Yonago-bound Conan livery train plying into Matsue Station. I could have boarded this train to get to Sakaiminato, but as my Sanin-Okayama pass was still valid, I chose to ride in comfort by hopping on to the next incoming Yakumo Express to my next stop, Yonago.

At Yonago Station, I waited at platform 0 where trains bound for Sakaiminato would ply. To my delight, the next Sakaiminato-bound train was a Medama-Oyaji themed one. Medama-Oyaji is a walking eyeball character who is Kitaro's father, hides in Kitaro's left eye socket, has extensive knowledge about demons, and loves to soak in a teacup filled with hot water.

The stations along the Sakaiminato Line have a second name, based on demon characters from Gegege no Kitaro. For example, Yonago Station is also known as Nezumi-Otoko Station, Yonago Airport Station is also known as Betobeto-san Station and the final stop, Sakaiminato Station is also known as Kitaro Station.

The announcements in the train contain original cast voices of Kitaro, Neko-Musume (Cat-girl) and Medama-Oyaji, adding to the experience of entering Mizuki-sensei's magical demonic world.

Yonago station and platform zero bound for Sakaiminato
Gegege no Kitaro livery train!
Yonago Station aka Nezumi-Otoko (Ratman) Station
From right to left: Shisa, Kappa, Mishima-Tanuki, Neko-Musume (Cat-girl), Azuki-Hakari
Arrival of the Sakaiminato-bound Medama-Oyaji train!
Inside the Medama-Oyaji train
Yonago Airport Station aka Betobeto-san Station
Arrived at Sakaiminato Station aka Kitaro Station!

I eventually arrived at Sakaiminato Station and after exiting station, I could already see statues of Mizuki-sensei and his characters: Kitaro, Akuma-kun and so on. There is a road in Sakaiminato named in Mizuki-sensei's honor, called Mizuki Shigeru Road. This road is filled with small statues of Mizuki-sensei's demons and lots of kitschy Kitaro-themed shops that would surely delight fans of Gegege no Kitaro.

Mizuki-sensei and Kitaro on a rainy day
Mural at Sakaiminato ferry terminal with demon characters from Gegege no Kitaro
Welcome to the World Demon Conference
The main drag of Sakaiminato - Mizuki Shigeru Road
One of the many kitschy Kitaro shops along Mizuki Shigeru Road
Yokai Jinja - Demon Shrine
Yokai Jinja ema tablets of Medama-Oyaji, Ittan-Momen and Nurikabe
Mizuki-sensei and his wife, Nunoe
Fancy a breakfast of freshly baked bread shaped into your favorite Kitaro characters?
One of Mizuki-sensei's iconic demon characters - Azuki-Arai (Azuki Washing Demon)
Sunakakeya - a rest stop run by Konaki-Jiji (Crybaby Geezer) and Sunakake-Baba (Sand-throwing Hag)
Neko-Musume stamp
Animatronic of Medama-Oyaji doing the Ojigi (Japanese bow)

At the end of Mizuki Shigeru Road is Sakaiminato's most famous tourist attraction, the Mizuki Shigeru Memorial Hall. Here, one can learn about Mizuki-sensei's contributions and life.

I was most impressed with the exhibit displaying Mizuki-sensei's travel souvenirs, photos and gear and it was very interesting to know that he had visited Malaysia 3 times before to see our local aboriginal tribes. During the war, Mizuki-sensei lost his arm from a bomb shrapnel and was nursed by the tribesmen of Papua New Guinea. When he was found and rescued by the Japanese army, he vowed to pay them a visit again someday. After striking it rich with Gegege no Kitaro, he kept his promise by visiting Papua New Guinea numerous times, sometimes with his youngest daughter. Eventually, he developed a love for travelling around the world, visiting ancient monuments and aboriginal tribes.

One of the exhibit's centerpiece was a Papua New Guinea tribal wood carving, chronicling Mizuki-sensei's life. The carving contains depictions of him as a young boy, as a soldier, as a married man with his wife and two daughters, as a traveler with the Papua New Guinea tribesmen, and as a manga artist with his creations: Kitaro, Nezumi-Otoko, Neko-Musume, Konaki-Jiji, Sunakake-Baba, Akuma-kun and Mephisto. This wood carving was a request made by Mizuki-sensei to local Japanese artisans and second copy was made, kept in his home.

Mizuki Shigeru Memorial Hall
Mizuki Shigeru as a young boy and his grandmother, Non-Non-Ba, who told him many stories about ghosts and demons
The first version of Kitaro - Hakaba Kitaro
Terebi-kun (TV Boy) - Mizuki Shigeru's debut work in Shonen Magazine that earned him fame
Kitaro's ten demonic superpowers
Mizuki-sensei's love for travel. Clockwise from top-left: Langkawi (Malaysia), Australia, Peninsular Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and Borneo
Mizuki-sensei's treasure trove of tribal souvenirs
A Papua New Guinea inspired wood carving made by Japanese artisans upon Mizuki-sei's request, chronicling his life
Mizuki-sensei's travel gear and passport. There's a stamp on top page stating that he is an important person.
Wall autograph by Shigeru Mizuki, featuring Akuma-kun and Mephisto
Mizuki-sensei at his home and workplace in Chofu, Tokyo
Eyeball for my snack

After a fun day visiting Mizuki Shigeru Road and the memorial hall, I headed back to Sakaiminato station and had lunch at a kaiten-sushi restaurant in the adjacent ferry terminal. After lunch, it was time to take off in a ship for an adventure at a faraway island...

Flame-torched seabass sushi
Cod milt sushi
Daisen-wagyu sushi
Time for another trip to an outlying island! Matane!

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List of Posts:
2019/05/31 - Matsue Horanenya - Koyasan
2019/05/30 - Matsue Horanenya - Horyuji and to Wakayama Prefecture
2019/05/29 - Matsue Horanenya - Uji
2019/05/28 - Matsue Horanenya - Amanohashidate
2019/05/27 - Matsue Horanenya - Tottori Sand Dunes
2019/05/26 - Matsue Horanenya - Kangyosai Ҍ
2019/05/25 - Matsue Horanenya - The World Heritage Sites of Hagi
2019/05/24 - Matsue Horanenya - Akiyoshido and Akiyoshidai
2019/05/23 - Matsue Horanenya - The Beluga Whales of AQUAS
2019/05/22 - Matsue Horanenya - Chunichisai
2019/05/21 - Matsue Horanenya - Matengai Cliff and the Kuniga Coast
2019/05/20 - Matsue Horanenya - Sakaiminato
2019/05/19 - Matsue Horanenya - Izumo Taisha
2019/05/18 - Matsue Horanenya - Togyosai n
2019/05/17 - Matsue Horanenya - Getting to Matsue from KIX
2016/07/15 - Hokkaido Day 14 - End of the Trip and My Top Five Highlights
2016/07/14 - Hokkaido Day 13 - Biei's Patchwork Road and the Blue Pond
2016/07/13 - Hokkaido Day 12 - The Lavender Fields of Furano
2016/07/12 - Hokkaido Day 11 - Usuyukiso Habitat and Peach Rock
2016/07/11 - Hokkaido Day 10 - Rebun's 4-Hour Trekking Course
2016/07/10 - Hokkaido Day 9 - Wakkanai, the Northernmost City of Japan
2016/07/09 - Hokkaido Day 8 - Journey to the North
2016/07/08 - Hokkaido Day 7 - Last Day in Shiretoko
2016/07/07 - Hokkaido Day 6 - Bear Watching Cruise and Rausu
2016/07/06 - Hokkaido Day 5 - Shiretoko Five Lakes
2016/07/05 - Hokkaido Day 4 - Obihiro Butadon and the Kushiro Norokko Train
2016/07/04 - Hokkaido Day 3 - Hell Valley and Heavenly Ramen
2016/07/03 - Hokkaido Day 2 - Yoichi and Otaru
2016/07/02 - Hokkaido Day 1 - Late Night Ramen Dinner
2015/05/02 - Hanami 2015 Day 6 - The Wisterias of Ashikaga Flower Park
2015/05/01 - Hanami 2015 Day 5 - Kakunodate and Long Winding Route to Aomori
2015/04/30 - Hanami 2015 Day 4 - The Lonely Sakura of Koiwai Farm
2015/04/29 - Hanami 2015 Day 3 - Matsushima and the Shiogamazakura
2015/04/28 - Hanami 2015 Day 2 - Hirosaki
2015/04/27 - Hanami 2015 Day 1 - Shibazakura in Chichibu