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More of Tottori Sand Dunes

Feeling small in Japan's largest dunes

White sand, blue sky, blue ocean, all in one place - this is already pretty good but in Tottori you are not just at the beach but you are on top of massive sand dunes. The Tottori Sand Dunes are Japan's largest sand dunes, right by the Sea of Japan.

Watching the wave patterns created by the wind in the sand is as fascinating as watching the various kinds of people making their way across the expanse of sand. I went there in 2012 and found it less busy but in recent years foreign visitors and expats in Japan discovered this "Little Sahara in Japan". There is now much written about the dunes and their surroundings.

My most interesting discovery at the time was the fact that these very dunes were the set for an art house movie, called "Sunna no Onna" (The Woman in the Dunes). For some other travelers these dunes are the location of adventure sports, such as sand boarding and paragliding. Different travelers have different interests!

However, the dunes themselves are the top attractions and are much photographed. All travelers, including George (Tottori Sand Dunes - Desert in Japan), Siyoung (Witness Where Sand Meets Sky) and Jeromee (Scattered Around Tottori Sand Dunes), agree on that.

If the monotony of the dunes gets at you, then check out sand formed into sculptures. The nearby Tottori Sand Museum offers the unique spectacle of sand sculptures that are made according to a theme. Recent themes centered around a region of the world or a country and included South America. The ice sculptures at the Sapporo Snow Festival has become famous in recent years but the Tottori sand sculptures are still an insider tip.

Tottori is located on the San'in Coast, facing the Sea of Japan, which is much less visited than the San'yo Coast, facing the Pacific Ocean. The "san" in both place names means mountain while the "in" stands for Yin and the "yo" stands for Yang. This was an interesting piece of information for me: yin and yang represented by the landscape of Japan!

Getting there

Tottori City is served by JR San'in Main Line, which connects Kyoto with Shimonoseki in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

More info

Find out more about Tottori Sand Dunes.

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