The Yokai Spirits’ Port City
Sakaiminato is a port city in the San’in area, at the western end of Tottori prefecture on the coast of the Sea of Japan. The town has a reputation for its local fresh fish and crustaceans, but is also popular among the fans of Shigeru Mizuki, the city-born famous manga artist.
Sakaiminato, a port city in Tottori prefecture on the Sea of Japan, is not home to the usual Japanese hospitality, filled with smiles and bowing. Rather, visitors exiting the train 🚅 station are welcomed by spirits and other ghost-like creatures called yokai (妖怪) in Japanese.
👻 The hometown of mangaka Shigeru Mizuki
As a matter of fact, the city’s streets exhibit no less than 177 bronze statues as a tribute to the strange characters imagined by famous mangaka Shigeru Mizuki (1922 - 2015). Born in Sakaiminato, the Japanese cartoonist is the world-renowned author of GeGeGe no Kitaro, a horror manga telling the adventures of Kitaro, a yokai hunter, that was adapted into several anime series, notably by Isao Takahata (1935 – 2018).
In the city, Mizuki’s fans are invited to a yokai themed stamp rally, with a stamp rally booklet to purchase at the Visitors Information Center at the exit of the JR station (¥500 (~US$3.69) as of June 2022). Stamps are to be collected along the Mizuki Shigeru Road, while shopping for local products.
The otaku pilgrimage in Sakaiminato ends by the Mizuki Shigeru Museum, opened since 2003. The place is dedicated both to the singular and diverse universe the mangaka created, and to the modern yokai spirits he invented. The exhibition is in Japanese but English language audio-guides are available. On a side note, there are 2 other pilgrimages cities focusing on famous mangas in Tottori prefecture: Hokuei, the hometown of Detective Conan’s author and Kurayoshi whose cityscape is featured in A Distant Neighborhood.
🦀 Western Japan’s active fishing port
Sakaiminato has been known for its fishing port since the Middle Ages, and always was a trading hub between Continental Asia and the archipelago. The port city still benefits from a very good reputation regarding crab and red tuna fishing, and is therefore an interesting destination for amateurs of fresh fish and seafood. Food markets and many restaurants, directly established in front of the port, serve seasonal menus, according to the catch of the day.
The city also spread on the Yumigahama Peninsula, a bow shaped stretch of land, enjoyed by the locals for its sunsets on the Sea of Japan, as well as for water and sport activities. You will get a 360° panorama on this landscape from the Yumeminato Tower, whose name could be translated as "tower of the dream port". Its observation deck offers a view on:
- Miho Bay, its great shrine Miho-jinja (美保神社) and its small port Mihonoseki;
- Kaike Onsen ♨️ thermal resort on the beach;
- And up to the top of Mount Daisen, located in Daisen-Oki National Park.
The exploration of Sakaiminato continues with a detour by Shofuku-ji temple (正福寺), that also shelters a statue of one of Shigeru Mizuki’s characters. Then, reaching the Eshima Ohashi Bridge, that crosses Lake Nakaumi, offers a view on the city that has been very popular recently on the internet 📶. The lake marks the limit with Shimane prefecture and gives access to Matsue, a beautiful castle 🏯-town.