Kakuriyo: Bed and Breakfast for Spirits
かくりよの宿飯 あやかしお宿に嫁入りします。(Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi: Ayakashi Oyado ni Yomeiri Shimasu.)
IOKA Waco (art); YUMA Midori (original story); Laruha (character design)
Josei – Romance, supernatural
6 Volumes (ongoing)
Aoi, like her recently deceased grandfather, can see spirits, but she uses her cooking skills to placate them. After giving her lunch to a masked creature, Aoi is whisked away to a strange world — and the being she fed welcomes her as his bride?! Can Aoi avoid marrying a spirit?
Meeting different ayakashi like in Kamisama Kiss. A devotion to cooking a la Kitchen Princess. But the series Kakuriyo: Bed and Breakfast for Spirits most reminds me of is The Story of Saiunkoku.
Like The Story of Saiunkoku, Kakuriyo: Bed and Breakfast for Spirits is based on a light novel series targeted toward females that is not available in English (and also received an anime adaptation). The two series also both feature heroines who would rather work than be given a luxurious life in exchange for marriage. But for me, the most striking similarity is the tone — easygoing, slow-paced, and a heroine who is in no rush to fall in love. While Kakuriyo is less than half of Saiunkoku‘s length (10 volumes vs 22), it still means that it’s likely going to be a while before the entire story is adapted into manga format. And with the English version now caught up to the Japanese release for the manga (volume 7 hasn’t been scheduled yet, and volume 6 was released in August 2019 in Japan), this is going to be one of those series where even if you’re interested, you might want to put it on the back burner. Even if it wraps up relatively soon, I doubt it will have covered everything in the light novels. Judging from the episode titles and summaries, volume 6 only covers up to about episode 9 out of 25 in the anime.
Despite the title, Kakuriyo is not the name of the inn (bed and breakfast) Aoi ends up working at. Kakuriyo is the name of the realm where spirits known as ayakashi reside. While many ayakashi can come and go between Kakuriyo and Utsushiyo, the human world, Aoi’s grandfather, Shiro, was the rare person who could visit Kakuriyo. Shiro was a free spirit with a roguish charm; just hearing Shiro’s name is enough to cause a commotion in Kakuriyo, and his reputation wasn’t much better on Earth either. But to Aoi, who was abandoned because of her sixth sense, Shiro was her dear, precious grandfather who took her in as a child.
But Shiro, who had many children and likely countless grandchildren, may not have decided to raise Aoi just because it was the right thing to do. When he was young, he racked up a debt at Tenjin-ya, an inn in Kakuriyo. Run by Kijin (aka Ōdanna), an ogre who is one of the highest-ranking spirits, Shiro agreed to hand over his granddaughter with the strongest spiritual power as a bride. And of course, guess who has come to collect on his debt.
However, Aoi doesn’t want to get married to someone she doesn’t know, especially to a non-human. Ōdanna’s allies aren’t happy with the arrangement either, but Ōdanna seems pleased at the idea of a) marrying a human, b) marrying Shiro’s granddaughter, and c) marrying Aoi in particular. Aoi decides to repay Shiro’s debts instead of getting married, but Ōdanna replies that even if she does manage to find one of his workers willing to train her, she’s not going to have his protection. As Aoi tries to find a job at Tenjin-ya, the fox spirit Ginji tries to assist her to the best of his ability without raising the ire of others. It’s thanks to his help that she finds a little corner space that used to be a restaurant.
As I mentioned, Kakuriyo: Bed and Breakfast for Spirits is not a fast manga. Even though Ginji shows Aoi the space in the first volume, it isn’t until the second volume that she even entertains the idea of running a restaurant. Even now, while her restaurant has some steady income (ironically enough, we never see the restaurant actually busy, only relying on Aoi’s narration), she’s still trying to ensure that the place won’t be closed within a couple of months.
The casual pace is also affected by the ayakashi, who have long lives. Ōdanna, for example, mentions that he thinks of one of his workers and the latter’s sister as like his grandchildren, even though they all look physically like young adults. Shiro’s death also serves as a reminder for many that humans have very short lifespans. So while readers question some of Ōdanna’s actions (and heck, he may not fully know the answer himself despite holding some secrets), he thinks that by both not offering assistance and showing off the benefits of being the wife of a noble he can convince Aoi to marry him. I wouldn’t go so far as to say he’s a jerk (in fact, he’s almost always calm), there’s definitely a generation — or rather, generations — gap between him and the modern-minded Aoi.
At the same time, he’s not a very proactive love interest. In fact, in the first volume, his role is rather small after bringing Aoi to Kakuriyo. It takes a few volumes before we seem him as a true regular fixture and (likely) love interest in the manga. Again, to him, it probably matters not that Aoi marries him tomorrow or 10 years from now. And in a light novel, you can probably get several interactions between them in 300-or-so pages of the written word. In the manga? Yeah, not always so much.
So while the plot seems to be to earn enough money to pay off Shiro’s large bill, most of the plot is Aoi meeting new ayakashi or becoming friendly with Tenjin-ya’s staff and customers. With later volumes struggling to reach the 150 page mark, the relationship between Aoi and Ōdanna is often not at the forefront of the story. Again, it’s similar to The Story of Saiunkoku. This is good if you tend to avoid sickly sweet romances (or domineering, pretentious leads), but it again means that readers have to be prepared to be prepared for the long haul if love stories are your thing. Rather than worrying about her “fiancé”, Aoi is trying to track down a spirit she met as a child that saved her from hunger to thank him.
And speaking of all the mythological creatures, readers will likely recognize some other character archetypes like the beautiful rival, the strict businessman with a secret, and even the cute mascot. Ginji the fox is my favorite since his various transformations makes him a fun character. Unfortunately, we don’t often see this side of him, as most of his appearances are of him helping Aoi by explaining Kakuriyo cuisine, arranging deals, and otherwise being helpful. He also clearly knows more about Aoi’s ayakashi than he’s letting on. Aoi plays well off of all of them, as she’sa pretty practical heroine. She does have a tendency to be a bit too soft-hearted, as is usual for female protagonists, making food even though others reject her help. But everyone is eventually wooed by Aoi’s meals. As I mentioned earlier, we don’t see much of her actually running the restaurant but rather see Aoi working before opening or when the restaurant is closed. This means the manga focuses on Aoi and one, maybe two other character at a time. So while there are quite a few workers at Tenjin-ya (not to mention the number of guests in this prestigious inn), Kakuriyo doesn’t have a lot of group interactions.
Cooking, as you have gathered, is an essential part of the story. While many recipes involve ingredients from Kakuriyo, the main ideas are Japanese dishes you may or may not be familiar with. In my case, not familiar with. Cooking to me is about as exciting as watching paint dry, and I’m not even the type to try out new foods to eat. So reading Aoi narrate abridged versions of Japanese staples was totally uninteresting to me. Even if you substitute fire chicken eggs for regular eggs, Aoi uses special ayakashi tools that dramatically reduces preparation time, like a spirit-backed version of a pressure cooker or super oven. I’m sure some readers may be intrigued and look up how to make some of the dishes, but that inspiration is not going to be as strong versus some other food-themed manga due to the supernatural aspects, which are heavily rooted in Japanese culture.
The world of Kakuriyo is very Japanese-inspired in both realms. When Aoi visits (or looks down upon) the capital city of Kakuriyo, the place is bustling. Most of the main spirits look very human-like or have humanoid forms, and I hope the story will have more animal-like spirits as main characters like the author we meet. This is not the fault of the artist, as she has to go by the author’s stated designs. But I still wanted to see more variety in an average panel. Maybe it’s because she’s around the most and has the least interesting design since she’s a normal human, but I thought Aoi was often not drawn well. Sometimes her eyes would just be inked darker for periods of time or be otherwise off. The manga also relies heavily on narration to help explain how the restaurant is doing since it doesn’t show much of Aoi’s restaurant’s open hours. I wish we could see more of her normal days, even if it’s just a shot here and there to reflect if the restaurant is crowded or not.
No honorifics are used. Terms like “ayakashi” and “Ōdanna” are kept, but most spirit names are translated (“ogre” from “oni”, raccoon, snow woman, etc.). The inn’s name is kept as “Tenjin-ya”, “Kakuriyo”/”Utsushiyo” is kept as the name of the realms. A list of translation notes explaining things like Kakuriyo, the Japanese name of the spirits, and references are included — much more than the typical Viz Media release. I was surprised Ōdanna was used at all versus something like “Master” or “Boss”. Other positions are translated (young proprietress, etc.)
Kakuriyo: Bed and Breakfast for Spirits is probably now going to be a once-a-year series in English, maybe even longer than that between volumes. That’s going to make a slow-paced manga into one progressing at a glacier’s pace. The cooking, spiritual world, and the “love interest learns to view things in a more modern light” combination will attract a lot of interest, but I think most fans would be better off putting their time and money into the anime or begging a company to license the light novels.
Crunchyroll has the anime adaptation available to stream while Funimation has released the series on home video.
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