How does a visit to Monster Street in Kyoto, Japan sound?
Monster Street, otherwise known as Yokai (妖怪; monster/ghost) Street, resides in a nondescript area of north west Kyoto city that warrants a ramble along if you’re “templed-out”. It is actually, in the real world, Ichijo Dori. Which probably translates to First Street. Or something. Map down below.
So what is Yokai Street? It basically is a street of random retail stores who have deemed it necessary to plop a variety of home-made monsters outside their doors. It is quite fun to spot the next one as you meander along the street and to see the variety of ways in which they are made.
The origins of Yokai Street stems from a period in Kyoto’s history where a mass cleaning of the city was called for. The tools that were tossed out on to the streets were angered and gathered together to form some sort of unwanted tools union and created monsters to display their anger.
The street they chose to gather on? Yokai Street, of course!
The reality of the situation is, is that retailers on the street were facing some hard times in recent decades and decided to use the Yokai legend to attract more customers. And, thus, Yokai Street was created.
Visiting during Covid times, it is not hard to see how the street could fall on hard times as it was quite…dead…when we visited.
It feels like a local street. For local people. Not much here to attract anyone away from the main shopping areas of downtown Kyoto.
They do have a small museum and a ramen place serving monster like black ramen.
The bedding store has a bedding monster!
The flower shop has a suitably horticulturally attired and decorated monster.
As you can see, it’s a pretty bland looking street otherwise.
It is worth a visit? I think when all the shops return to normal operating hours and more monsters are apparent, then it is worth a short visit. You can walk up to Kitano Shrine from there, if you so opine.
Here is the location of Yokai Street on Google Maps.