Photo/Illutration A samisen player plays on the "floating stage" in the Okawaso hotel in Aizu-Wakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture, on July 22. (Shinji Ueda)

AIZU-WAKAMATSU, Fukushima Prefecture--Through the magic of a fantasy manga series, an onsen hot spring resort here is hoping to ride its popularity back to full occupancy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Fans of "Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba" have created an online buzz about the "floating stage" in the Okawaso hotel in the Ashinomaki onsen hot spring resort.

They point out that the space surrounding the stage is strikingly similar to Infinity Castle featured in the popular dark manga series, and reminds them of a scene in "Demon Slayer."

According to hotel general manager Fukuo Tamagawa, 65, the floating stage has been in place since the ryokan opened in 1989, used to welcome guests with samisen performances.

"Honestly, we're grateful for their response because we have endured a hard time after we lost customers due to the coronavirus pandemic," Tamagawa said.

The traditional ryokan inn temporarily closed due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. But after receiving an increasing number of inquiries from overnight stayers, the operator has high hopes that the newfound fame will help bring back customers through the doors. 

Once inside the main entrance, the open-space lobby with a high ceiling comes into view. The stage with a red floor is situated in the center, on which Emiko Sato, a "minyo" folk singer based in the city, plays the samisen every day to welcome overnight guests.

In the manga series, the protagonist and other Demon Slayers fight human-devouring demons in their home turf called Infinity Castle. They are intercepted by Nakime, a biwa-playing demon who has gravity-defying powers to manipulate spaces.

At Okawaso, samisen performances are held daily between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

For inquiries, visit the official website at (