‘GeGeGe’ birthplace becomes tourist magnet

May 12th, 2011 by Felicity Hughes

NHK's morning drama GeGeGe no Nyobo

In pursuit of ghostly fun and games, visitors flocked to the city of Sakaiminato in Tottori Prefecture during the recent Golden Week holidays (April 29-May 3). A shopping arcade in the hometown of quirky cartoon artist Shigeru Mizuki was the main attraction for day-trippers hoping to catch a sighting of their favorite “GeGeGe no Kitaro” characters. Despite a general drop in domestic travel due to the March 11 quake, visitor figures recorded by city’s sightseeing association, were up dramatically when compared the same period last year, according to MSN news.

The city is still riding high on a craze for “GeGeGe no Kitaro” that’s been sweeping the nation recently. Many fans have had their interest in the artist piqued by “GeGeGe no Nyobo,” a NHK TV drama that aired last year from March 29 to Sept 25. Based on the autobiography written by Mizuki’s wife Nunoe Mura, the drama details the couple’s life after their arranged marriage, and the struggles and hardships before Mizuki’s career really took off.

As the wife of a one-armed war veteran many year’s her senior, Mura at first finds it difficult to understand her work-obsessed husband. However, the couple grow to accommodate each other’s foibles in the gentle asadorama (morning drama) series. The same story was told in a movie of the same name released in Japanese theaters in November 2010.

“GeGeGe no Kitaro,” Mizuki’s biggest success, was a manga that featured various yokkai (spirit monsters) and retold the story of “Hakaba no Kitaro” (Kitaro of the Graveyard), which originally appeared as a kamishibai (paper play) in the 1930s. Over the holidays, bisitors to Sakaiminato’s Mizuki Road were able to enjoy a nostalgic kamishibai performance of the story as well as visit the famous kappa spring and view statues of GeGeGe no Kitaro characters.

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