A scenic western Japan port city has gone to the dark side in a bid to attract visitors -- offering them an array of black-colored foods and other items, the same color as the water of the local hot-spring spa.
After the spa facility opened near a mall in Yawatahama in Ehime Prefecture last summer, a group approached shops and restaurants in the arcade with the idea as a way to revitalize the district. Many visitors say they have found it all pleasantly spooky.
The "black list" leaflet of 50 shops and eateries in the 800-meter-long mall introduces such items as a "champon" noodle dish featuring black soup made with squid ink, as well as black-colored "manju" sweet buns, cheese cake, pasta, curry rice and fried chicken. Sushi rice mixed with black bamboo charcoal powder is also offered.
A musical instrument shop, meanwhile, sells melodicas with keyboards colored all black, while elsewhere in the mall even a postbox and a vending machine have been colored black.
Visitors say they have been amused to see normally black items such as stockings, boys' school uniforms, formal dresses and suits worn at funerals added to the list, too.
The initiative was first launched in January with a plan to run for a limited period but due to the amount of attention garnered, it will continue for an indefinite period.
Junichi Shimizu, a senior member of the promotional campaign, said he hopes visitors will not be able to resist taking pictures of the black items and posting them on social networking sites, creating a buzz.
"The look of the (black) dishes may give you a shock, but many of them are delicious once you taste them," Shimizu said, looking forward to a surge of visitors during the summer holidays.