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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Yokai Gallery

妖怪 (ようかい)

All these are statues of Yokai found along the Mizuki Shigeru Road in Sakaiminato. Sakaiminato is a port town on the Japan Sea, in Tottori prefecture, Japan.

GeGeGe no Kitaro, Sakaiminato, Tottori

The first yokai statue is the most famous of all the manga characters created by Shigeru, GeGeGe no Kitaro, star of many manga, animes and movies. Born in a graveyard from a father who is an eyeball, Kitaro is 300 years old. He is missing one eye and so his hair usually covers half his face.

Kappa Yokai, Sakaiminato, Tottori

The second are Kappa, known as water-sprites in English. There are stories of kappa from all over Japan. They live in irrigation ditches, wells, ponds, and rivers. Known to drown children, kappa can be appeased by writing the name of your child on a piece of kappazushi, a type of sushi made using cucumbers, and throwing it into the river and the kappa won't take your child.


The third is a Gangikozo, a fish-eating water monster possibly related to the kappa.

The fourth is a Sazaeoni, literally Turban Snail Ogre. Sazaeoni are created when a turban snail reaches the age of 30. Sazaeoni, like kappa and kitsune among others, are of a class of creatures known as obake, and have the ability to transform into the appearance of humans.


An old story tells of pirates who rescued a beautiful young woman from the sea. After having sex with her, the woman (an oni) cut off the pirates' testicles and when they threw her back into the sea, she transformed again into her true form.

The yokai Ratman

The last is another invention of Shigeru, Nezumi Otoko, half human, half yokai, known as Ratman. He assists Kitaro in many of his adventures and has not taken a bath in 300 years, so is known for his smell.

More than 100 Yokai statues can be found along the Mizuki Shigeru Road in Sakaiminato.

© Jake Davies & Japan Visitor.com

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