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October 19, 2013
Day 16 - Tottori

Tottori City (鳥取), the capital of Tottori Prefecture, is located in western Japan along the coast of the Sea of Japan. Tottori is most famous for its sand dunes, the largest in Japan, which cover about 30 square kilometers of coast north of the city center.

Tottori City was the regional seat of feudal power during the era of warring states, and the ruins of its former castle can still be found at the northeastern edge of the city center. The city offers a variety of museums, including the unique Sand Museum which exhibits intricate sand sculptures.

Today's Report
Tottori Sand Dunes

Hamanigana flower. The stem grows horizontally, not vertically.

Dinner at Tottori City Hotel last night was good and I struggled to stay awake after dinner (I almost lost.) Thankfully the sand dunes aren't too far from here, so I had a bit of a sleep in this morning and headed to the sand dunes after breakfast.

Thinking about it now, while the Tottori Sand Dune area isn't very big, I still managed to spend almost 7hours there! Time flies when everything is new.

My two guides, Okada-san and Fuutan-san, showed me around the sand dunes. It was a 3.7km walk, but with the numerous uphills, it felt further than that (or maybe i'm not as fit as i think i am.)

My guides, Okada-san (l) and Fuutan-san (r) and is that a whale in the right background?

Amashima, the whale shaped island, about 1.5km away from where we were standing.

It seems that in terms of size, Tottori sand dunes are only number 2 nationally. The sand dunes in Aomori stand at number 1, being spread over more land. But the ones in Tottori are number one for most number of hills with the highest one at 60metres.

It doesn't look that high here, but it's about 49metres high, about 12 floors.

We were fortunate to have a great view of Mount Daisen

The difference between a sand dune and a desert is the sand. If you were to dig a little in a sand dune, the sand below is damp, while sand in the desert is dry. Interesting eh?

Along the way, my guides explained the history of the area and showed pictures of what it used to be like. There is ongoing works to preserve the sand dunes by local volunteers who pull the weeds out during summer.

This isn't normal sand, this is also part volcanic ash.

We came across some animal tracks, and my guides reckoned they were fox tracks!

There are many faces to the sand dunes, depending on the weather conditions and man-made changes. As a first time visitor, it is definitely a different sight after seeing lots of green nature in parks and forests. Even for my guides who have seen the landscape many times, they were marveled by what they saw on the walk as well. Things that they hardly see, can only be formed after certain weather changes.

A mix of fuumon (sand ripples) and sachuu (sand columns).

An oasis in the sand dunes.

After the walk, I was invited to do some sand painting. As someone who cannot draw, i was definitely nervous about the activity! I mean, there was a kid beside me who could draw better than I can. I did my best and "painted" away with another guide, Makiji-san. He gave me three of his works as souvenirs, all of them prettier than the other.

Guess which two are mine!

Before heading back to Tottori city, I stopped by the sand museum to check out the sand art that is on display now. I have to say that the exhibition was smaller than i had expected, but the detail work on the sculptures were amazing.

See you tomorrow and hopefully Typhoon 27 doesn't catch up with me.

Doesn't it look like we can step into the rice terraces too?

Shadow puppets, the detailing of the shadow is just amazing.

Could this be an Aye-Aye?

Break time means nashi soft cream. Yay!

You can also take the lift to the observatory and back again.

Man and his remote controlled plane.

These are hand drawn by my guide, Fuutan-san.

This is a tree, yes it is.

Paragilding jumps in session.

The weather was just beautiful.

Makiji-san made these three. Did you guess right?

Today's Program
Today's Walk: Through the sand dunes of Tottori

Join this walk

Today we walk through the Tottori Sand Dunes, which offer a quasi-desert experience in a country better identified with mountains and trees. A climb to the top of a sand hill is rewarded with lovely views overlooking the Sea of Japan. The day's tour finishes at the Tottori Sand Museum, where sand sculptures under the theme of "Southeast Asia" are currently being exhibited.

Date October 19, 2013
Start Time 9:40
Start Tottori Sand Dunes Geopark Center
Goal Tottori Sand Museum
Distance 5 kilometers (about 2-3 hours)
Terrain Today we walk across a sandy terrain. A section of the sand dunes involves climbing up a steep hill which can be quite taxing on the legs. The second half of the journey is done on an asphalt sidewalk by the main road.
Weather Average daytime high: 21 degrees Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit)
Average nighttime low: 12 degrees Celsius (54 degrees Fahrenheit)
Weather Forecast for Tottori
Access From Tottori Station, take a bus bound for the Tottori Sakyu (鳥取砂丘) and get off at the last stop. The one way ride takes 20 minutes and costs 360 yen. There are hourly departures from bus stop #0 in front of Tottori Station. The Tottori Sand Dunes Geopark Center is just across the road from the bus stop. The 9:10 departure from Tottori Station reaches the sand dunes in time for today's walk.

On weekends and national holidays, the Kirin Jishi Loop Bus also operates from Tottori Station to the sand dunes. Take a bus along the A-Course that takes about 25 minutes to get there. There are departures every 1-2 hours. The fare is 300 yen per ride or 600 yen for a 1-day pass.
More details on how to get to Tottori

Lodgings Central Tottori is the ideal base for the walk, where there are multiple lodging establishments.
Search hotels in Tottori through Agoda, or Japanican

Join this walk

Today's Activity - Sand Art Creating

We create original sand art pieces by first drawing on paper, and then attaching sand from the sand dunes onto the drawing with glue. You can take this one-in-the-world art piece home as a souvenir.

Location Tottori Sand Dunes Geopark Center
Time 14:00 to 15:00
Cost Free (Up to five participants accepted)


Daily Quiz
The deadline for answering the quiz question for day 16 has passed.

A large baseball stadium in central Tokyo, the Tokyo Dome is commonly used in Japan to illustrate the size of large areas. How many Tokyo Domes would it take to cover the Tottori Sand Dunes?

13%   About 1
8%   About 10
24%   About 100
18%   About 1000
37%   None of the above

The correct answer is: About 100

When preparing this quiz question, we originally assumed that the Tottori sand dunes cover an area of roughly 550ha which would roughly corresponds to about 100 Tokyo Domes. However, depending on the exact definition of the extent of the dunes, many sources state an area of 30 square kilometers or more, which would translate into something like 600 Tokyo Domes. We apologize for the badly researched question and will consider the answers "About 100", "About 1000" and "None of the above" all to be correct.

Current Standings: (after 30 days)

28 Points: Csabba, AlexanderStankov
27 Points: gladhiola, almoehi, ZoomX2, mikaelus
26 Points: Rabbityama, Proxy707

More about the quiz

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