By Rey Waters
The purpose of our trip to Tottori Prefecture was to visit the sand dunes. I was not expecting to see anything else. Upon landing in the Yonago Kitaro Airport I knew something was amiss. First, as I walked by the baggage claim area, there was a huge eyeball in an open suitcase floating by on the baggage carousel. I then looked up at the ceiling and saw these painted ghostly figures and thought, "what is this all about?"
It did not take long to find out, as our first stop was Mizuji Sigeru Road in Sakaminato. The street is named after Shigeru Mizuki – a Manga author and historian. His very famous series GeGeGe Kitaro or Spooky Kitaro is well represented with over 150 bronze yokai (ghost) statues all along the street. Due to his interest in the supernatural he was able to create many ghost characters in his stories. There is also a museum featuring additional stories and creatures. His life was very interesting, not just authoring his manga series, but also his wartime experiences. Once I read about his life, I became an immediate fan. Almost everything in this city has something to do with the yokai. The streetlights were made of eyes, and taxicabs had the eye instead of the normal taxi sign. The Sakaiminato train station walls are painted with many yokai characters. I will soon post a photo essay of the characters.
As we traveled to the other end of Tottori prefecture I noticed many beautifully painted trains representing the manga ghosts. Another manga author, Gosho Aoyama, is from this prefecture. He is very famous around the world for his “Great Detective Conan” series. We passed trains with Conan painted on them. There is also a Manga Factory dedicated to Gosho Aoyama.
All of this and we still had not seen the Sand Dunes. Once we arrived in Tottori City and dropped our luggage off at the hotel, we boarded a bus straight to the Sand Museum. Each year sand sculptors from around the world come to create beautiful sculptures based on a predetermined theme. This year it was South America. They included 19 very large sculptures depicting their history and culture, including some UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The detail was amazing and each piece had an explanation in English. You can also see pictures of past exhibits.
Once we left the museum it was just a short walk to the famous sand dunes. The dunes are the largest in Japan. They are 16 kilometers long and 2 kilometers wide. The constantly changing landscape is a result of the winds from the Sea of Japan. We climbed to the top of a 50- meter sand hill for a sensational view. Back near the entrance people were waiting in line for a chance to ride a camel. We walked around for an hour and were ready for lunch. I spotted a sign for Ray Garden Restaurant and we jokingly decided to give it a try. What a great choice - our waitress, Yukari, provided excellent service and the food was out of this world. When visiting the dunes, make plans to dine at the Ray Garden Restaurant.
We were very fortunate as the forecast was for rain, which did not start until we were about to board our bus back to Tottori city.
Detective Conan found many ghosts along with interesting attractions throughout the prefecture. He recommends you come soon and enjoy the food, fantasy, history, and culture.
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Born in the U.S.A. - Worked 30 years in executive management high tech Industry, owned a management consulting firm and a wildlife art publishing company. In 2012 completed the Ultimate Travel Writer’s course and published my first article Tower Hopping in Japan with Travel Post Monthly. Since then I have published travel related articles and books in the U.S., Japan, and Costa Rica. As of 2018 I have traveled all 8 regions in Japan. My objective in writing articles is to expose prospective tourists to areas of Japan outside the Tokyo - Kyoto corridor. I enjoy writing about the outdoors, festivals, crafts, museums, local food, history, and the wonderful people I have met along the way. Residing in Yokohama for over five years, I have explored the entire city by foot and have written about my experiences. There is so much to see in Japan.