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Ge Ge Ge no Road Trip!!

Yokai, Love Hotels and Sea Beasts in Tottori and Hyogo Ken


The boy in the centre with the smart black and yellow vest is called GeGeGe no Kitaro - he's dead and the eyeball popping out of his hair is his father .... Yes, you read that right!

Kitaro is a popular Manga and Anime character in Japan. Created in 1959 by Shigeru Mizuki, the series has remained poular ever since Every decade since then a new anime version has been produced. The main focus of the story is Kitaro and his spirit friends defending humans from traditional Japanese spooks and monsters collectively known as Yokai. In fact the various Yokai portrayed in the series are mostly drawn from traditional myths and legends which Shigeru Mizuki almost singlehandedly revived interest in for moderm Japanese people.

It's no surprise then (loving all myths, legends, spooks and beasties as I do) that this series has quite grown on me, it's also no surprise that that the small costal hometown of the creator has cashed in on the fame his creations - and as Haru really likes the character too, we decided to go and check out the town, Sakaiminato, and all it's yokai inhabitants.


We took the highway there and made really good time, getting there in just few hours and once there it didn't take long to get knee deep in yokai. They are everywhere in all shapes and sizes.



Including many versions of Kitaro himself.


He's even on the toilet signs.


However the most common type of yokai art on display are the small bronze statues that line the main street.






There are 134 of these in total, and for about €1 you can buy a little booklet showing all their pictures and locations, there are even places to mark several of them with rubber stamps provided by the statue - collect all the stamps and present your booklet at the tourist information office and you get a 'Yokai Hunter' certificate :-) I have to say it adds a lot fun to a stroll around the town, and add to that the 'Yokai Museum' it takes a fair bit of time to look around.

We actually split this over two days as we'd allowed three days for this trip so we could take it easy, and it would finally give me a chance to stay in a Japanese... Fashion Hotel.... Boutique Hotel... or, as they're better known, Love Hotel.

I've heard a lot about these places and have wanted to see one for a long time - these places are designed or discretion with access to their windowless rooms either direct from private garage like parking places - or through a lobby with no visible staff. Mostly once inside the doors are electronically locked and are only opened in an emergency or once payment for the room has been made to an automatic machine inside.

Now this might all sound a little sleazy, but these places are a part of everyday life in Japan with it being estimated that around 1.4 million couples, or 2 percent of Japan's population, visit a love hotel each day.

Why? Well, sure some are doing things they shouldn't be doing - but these hotels also offer very clean nice places to play out fantasies in private with various rooms equiped with... well pretty much whatever takes your fancy really.

There's a really interesting collection of 'Love Hotel' photos on this womans site - http://www.mistykeasler.com/ (Click the top left image) Though she seems to have focused on more kinky and 'exotic' rooms. The first place we stayed in was just like a nice hotel room really - though it had it's own slot machine, karaoke and Playstation 3 for free. Oh, and free condoms, poloroid camea and the sex shop equivelent of a mini-bar in case you didn't know what type of hotel you'd checked into. There was also a nice big spa bath with a TV embedded in the bathroom wall by it - which was nice!

It was actually a really nice room and a fair bit cheaper than a regular hotel; though reservations can't be made for Love Hotels and you can only check in for an overnight stay after about 10pm.

The second place wasn't so nice (my fault I chose the second one - and confess I chose it purely on the basis that it had costumes in the room.... Yes, I'm hanging my head in shame right now.) Still, at least I finally got to find out how I'd have looked if I had been burned out hippy :-)


I'm really into the idea of these hotels now and will stay in them whenever possible in the future. I'm really curious what wounderful rooms are hidden away waiting to be discovered - they often have pretty spectacular external design work too. So expect more hotel photos on the future.

After leaving Sakiminato the only plan was to take the long slow coastal road back stopping off wherever we wanted.


The weather was cold and spotting with rain, but we still braved a few beaches along the way and I even showed my British grit by getting my shoes and socks off and getting my feet wet (Cold, very cold!)



Haru actually had one more stop in mind that I didn't know about - a small Onsen town with a Marine Aquarium built along the coast.

Having already done two big aquarium blog pieces I didn't take too many photos - but I took a few of the more unique creatures they had.



For me though, this was the star attraction.



I don't actually remember seeing a walrus up close before, and I was shocked by just how massive the male was.


Wonderful creature - and a nice last stop on the trip too, from there on it was rain and roads all the way back to Kyoto where Haru dropped me off, then another hour on the train to get home. The spring feeling in the air has passed again and it's bitter cold and icy rain all round now, but it can't last much longer. Spring will come, the cherry blossom will bloom and a whole new world of travel options will open up!

Posted by DKJM74 00:42

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