Tottori Prefecture is the least populated prefecture in all of Japan. Compared to other areas, Tottori doesn’t get many visitors from overseas. Even though the foreign tourists who do actually visit here are captivated by Tottori’s charms, as things are now, there are many people who are unaware of Tottori’s appeal.
But can anyone really talk about Japan without visiting Tottori? I live in Tottori City, and I don’t think you can. It’s here, in this small rural prefecture, that you can experience the “real Japan” that’s different from anything you can experience in the big cities.
Tottori Prefecture is a long, narrow prefecture that stretches from east to west. In this article, I will introduce eastern Tottori Prefecture, which, alongside the famous Tottori Sand Dunes, is filled with appealing locations such as a coastline recognized worldwide and a restaurant in the middle of a forest that has been listed in the Michelin Guide. There are things here in Tottori that you can’t find in the hectic big cities.
So please read along as I introduce a journey through eastern Tottori Prefecture that will let you enjoy the amazing varied facets of nature, including sea, san, and forest, that the area has to offer.
Tottori Sand Dunes
The Tottori Sand Dunes are the first thing that comes to mind when anyone is asked about sightseeing spots in this area. Public transportation here is convenient, as you can catch a bus here from Tottori Station.
When you climb to the top of the dune nicknamed “The Camel’s Back”, you can see the dazzling blue of the Sea of Japan spreading out before you. The blues of sky and sea as a backdrop against this amazing scenery makes for the perfect photo spot.
Also, the Tottori Sand Dunes have become a hot topic of discussion for young people looking for places to take photos that look great on various social networking services. Just look up the phrase “#tottorisanddunes”. You’ll see shots that look like you’ve been taken to the edge of the world where no one else is around, and even some taken from the back of an actual camel. Photos with this hashtag are popular with people all around the world
If you have the time, I recommend trying activities like paragliding or sandboarding. Make no mistake, there are things you can only do here along with the local residents or tourists from other parts of Japan.
The Tottori Sand Dunes appear differently depending on the season or even the time of day. It’s a wonderful location during the day, but it’s also great for watching sunsets or stargazing. You can even see snow-capped sand dunes during the winter. People never get tired of this wonderful view.
The Sand Museum
If you visit the Tottori Sand Dunes, I really hope you’ll also take the time to visit the nearby Sand Museum. It’s the only museum in the world that is specifically for sand sculptures, as top-class sand sculptors from around the world gather here to put their work on display. It will move you in ways different from any of the art that you’ve already seen. The museum puts on an annual special display titled “Travel Around the World in Sand”, where a different area is chosen as the theme every year.
The museum’s observation deck gives you an unbroken view of the Tottori Sand Dunes. You can see the thickly-wooded area in front of the dunes, with the sea as a backdrop, creating mysterious scenery where the sea, arid land, and green coexist.
After spending the morning around the Tottori Sand Dunes ad getting your fill of the scenery there, it’s time for lunch. Lunch in Tottori often features delicious seafood, and there are plenty of shops around the dunes where you can enjoy fresh seafood caught in the Sea of Japan.
However, if your schedule permits, I’d recommend Mitaki-en, a restaurant featured in the Michelin Guide where you can enjoy a meal in some beautiful natural surroundings. Starting at Tottori Station and heading south by train, then catching a bus (or taxi), you can get there in about an hour and 15 minutes (or about an hour if you’re driving). Connoisseurs of delicious food will not want to miss out on this restaurant.
You can enjoy a tantalizing meal that uses fresh ingredients like wild vegetables or river fish, all while enjoying how much more slowly time goes by here.
After a full meal of Tottori’s natural blessings, the next place I’d like you to visit is the Uradome Coast. It’s registered as part of the Global Geoparks Network, and is also part of the San’in Kaigan Geopark. On clear days in particular, you’ll find a variety of spectacular views that will take your breath away.
The coastal waters boast a clarity that is comparable to the sea around Okinawa, and in the summer, the area bustles with people who have come to enjoy the swimming here. Many different activities are available to enjoy, like kayaking or stand up paddleboarding. Clear kayaks that let you see the transparent waters are particularly popular with younger people. It’s a can’t-miss opportunity for photogenic shots!
Also, even during seasons where you can’t enjoy those activities, the Uradome Coast’s appeal doesn’t change. There are footpaths along the coastline, and you can go trekking on a two-hour course that lets you fully experience the varying beautiful scenery.
If you don’t have much time but still want to see it all, I’d recommend trying the sightseeing boats that take you close to all of the islands along the coast during a 40-minute cruise. They run from March to November.
Tottori Prefecture is blessed with all varieties of nature, and is filled with all sorts of charm. It’s still not so well known among foreign tourists, so please come and experience all of the hidden fascination that we have to offer! I’m sure that you’ll be able to do something here that you wouldn’t be able to in other sightseeing areas around Japan.
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