Tottori Manga Kingdom
Follow the manga brick road.
Tottori might be the least populated prefecture in Japan but that’s only if you’re counting the human demographic. As the native ‘hood for a number of renowned manga artists, this self-professed “Manga Kingdom” is also the idyllic home to an eccentric community of cartoon characters that occupy trains and buses, temples, towns, and random public places.
Step into a storybook world and discover how manga shapes everyday life in Japan.
Follow the manga brick road from Sakaiminato in the west of Tottori along the coast to Kurayoshi, keeping the magnificent Mount Daisen in view in the distance. Following this route will allow you to discover the three most prominent manga artists from Tottori; Mizuki Shigeru, Gosho Aoyama and Jiro Taniguchi.
Sakaiminato port city is about a 15 minute drive from Yonago airport, on the edge of the strip of land that juts out towards the Shimane Peninsula. Start here at the Tourist Information Center right outside Sakaiminato station. They have tons of information for exploring the area, as well as baggage storage, details for local guides, cheap bike rental, and taxi hire services where you can rent a taxi to take you on a sightseeing tour (options range from one hour to full-day).
From here, head left to Mizuki Shigeru road, a traditional shopping street lined with more than 150 bronze statues of yokai (supernatural monsters) that emerged from the peculiar imagination of Mizuki Shigeru. Find the statue of the author himself with his two most famous characters, Kitaro and Nezumiotoko (Rat Man) from Gegege no Kitaro before the entrance to the small mall next to the station.
You’ll find the Mizuki Shigeru museum two-thirds of the way down the road on the left. It’s a fantastically whimsical insight into the life and works of Shigeru. Even if you don’t know much about the author, exploring his kaleidoscopic world of ghosts and and monsters exhibited through original artworks, photographs and meticulous replicas is unmissable.
Come back the way you came, stopping in at one of the yokai-themed restaurants and stores, or to try the maguro (tuna) ramen unique to the area.
After, make your way to part two of the tour to Hokuei to enter the domain of Detective Conan, a hugely successful international manga series by Gosho Aoyama. Statues of Conan characters appear all along the road from Yura station to the Gosho Aoyama Manga Factory – there’s even a Conan bridge – where you can learn all about Aoyama’s life and works. The museum is slightly dated but there’s plenty there to keep fans and kids entertained.
The last part of the model manga tour takes you to Kurayoshi, the picturesque setting for cult manga Haruka na Machi e by Jiro Taniguchi which was recently adapted into a French film. It’s a charming foray into the nostalgic atmosphere that characterises much of modern Japanese manga. Finish up here with dinner in one of the traditional restaurants surrounding the storehouse district.