The "Kitaro Train" (鬼太郎列車 / Kitaro Ressha) has been in service since August 2000 on the JR Sakai Line, which connects JR Yonago Station in Tottori Prefecture with Sakaiminato Station. The theme of this train is "GeGeGe No Kitaro" by the great Japanese magna artist Shigeru Mizuki, and is popular line among manga and anime fans. This time, I will introduce how to enjoy the "Kitaro Train", including the operation status, stations along the line, and surrounding spots.
About JR Sakai Line
The JR Sakai Line is a 17.9 km long line that runs from JR Yonago Station to Sakaiminato Station in Sakaiminato City, and takes about 45 minutes to reach the terminal station. The train runs once every 45 minutes to an hour, and you can ride it with just a fare ticket. Among the trains in operation, 14 out of 17 round trips on weekdays, and all 15 round trips on Saturdays and holidays (after revision in March 2022), are wrapping trains (wrapped by films featuring certain motifs/themes) including the Kitaro Trains.
On this line, there is the Yonago Airport Station, which is about a 5-minute walk from Yonago Kitaro Airport, and Sakaiminato Station, which is the nearest station to Mizuki Shigeru Road and the Mizuki Shigeru Museum. The line is popular among tourists as a means of transportation to sightseeing spots.
*Operation is subject to change.
Types of Kitaro Trains
There are a total of 6 types of trains on the JR Sakai Line that feature characters from GeGeGe no Kitaro. After its renewal in 2018, the number of types has increased from previously 4 to 6, and each character is illustrated with the theme of sightseeing spots in Tottori and Shimane prefectures.
As its name suggests, "Kitaro Train" depicts the main character Kitaro. Each train features a different theme, such as "Yumigahama" (弓ヶ浜), which is famous for its beautiful coastline and "Daisen" (大山) which is the highest peak in the Chugoku region. The theme of "Sunakake Babaa Train" (left) is "Tottori Sand Dunes" (鳥取砂丘), one of Tottori's most famous sights. The theme of "Konaki Jijii Train" (middle) is "starry sky" (星空 / hoshizora) unique to Tottori, the prefecture said to have "the best starry sky spots in Japan". The "Nezumi Otoko Train" (right) is based on the theme of "Mihonoseki" (美保関), a fishing town that can be accessed in about 15 minutes from Mizuki Shigeru Road.
In addition, the “Neko Musume Train” (top) depicts “Lake Shinji” (宍道湖), a brackish water lake that turns red in the setting sun, and the “Medama Oyaji Train” (bottom) depicts a “hot spring” (温泉). You can also take pictures of the exterior of the train at the platform.
Kitaro Train's stations & platforms
Each station on the JR Sakai Line has a nickname named after "GeGeGe no Kitaro". For example, Yonago Station is nicknamed "Nezumi Otoko Station", and Yonago-Airport Station is known as "Betobetosan Station". Sakaiminato Station, where Shigeru Mizuki is born, is called "Kitaro Station".
At each station platform, there are station name display boards and decorations with illustrations related to the nickname of the station. In particular, Platform 0 of 'Nezumi Otoko Station' (Yonago Station), which is the starting point of the JR Sakai Line, is filled with Nezumi Otoko, Kitaro, and other main characters from GeGeGe no Kitaro. The Kitaro Trains depart from such yokai-buslting Platform 0.
At 'Kitaro Station' (Sakaiminato Station), the terminal station, there are photo spots such as the "Gigantic Yokai Mural" and the "World Yokai Conference" in the station area as well in addition to the platform.
The interior of Kitaro Train
The Kitaro Train has characters drawn not only on the exterior, but also on the interior such as the ceiling and even the walls on the side of the toilet. Kitaro drawn all over the ceiling is impressive. You can also take a two-shot photo with Kitaro drawn on the back of the seat.
Of course, other trains themed after characters like Nezumi Otoko, Neko Musume, Sunakake Babaa, Konaki Jijii, and Medama Oyaji will also show you a world of yokai inside the train car. And also on the wrapping train, you can listen to announcements in the voice of the characters that appear in the anime "GeGeGe no Kitaro".
Sightseeing spots along the JR Sakai Line
There are many sightseeing spots along the JR Sakai Line. Once you arrive at JR Sakaiminato Station, the final stop, you'll be in the Yokai Kingdom. "Mizuki Shigeru Road" (水木しげるロード), which runs from the front of the station, is dotted with sightseeing spots such as 177 yokai bronze statues, a yokai shrine, and the Mizuki Shigeru Museum. Enjoy other-wordly encounters with yokai!
About a 5-minute drive from Sakaiminato Station is the "Sakaiminato Fish Market" (境港魚市場). Here you can see the scenery of the seafood landings of Sakaiminato, which is also a fishery kingdom where the amount of raw bluefin tuna and crabs that are landed is ranked first and second in Japan. You can also taste fresh seafood at direct sales facilities such as the "Sakaiminato Seafood Direct Sales Center" (境港水産物直売センター). In addition, at "Yonago Kitaro Airport" (米子鬼太郎空港), you can enjoy the world of GeGeGe no Kitaro unique to the airport, such as Kitaro dressed as a pilot.