Tottori sand dunes

Top 3 Must-Visit Locations in Japan: Tottori

Following our recent post on visiting Okayama prefecture, today I will share my latest recommendation from the mini-series! Tottori prefecture has a long history: settlements first appeared in the prehistoric period and have been fought over and under rule of various clans. In fact, the prefecture belongs to the same region (Chūgoku-chihō) as Okayama, and the same Ikeda clan from our Okayama post also maintained control of the Tottori prefecture until the Edo period.

tottori prefercture - map of japan
Tottori prefecture, Chūgoku region (From Chugoku and Shikoku)

Located on the southern coast of the Sea of Japan, Tottori prefecture is home to beautiful coasts and nature parks alike. The following are some of the locations I was lucky enough to see for myself. As always, don’t forget to look out for other things to see and do in the area! If you have any recommendations, don’t hesitate to drop us a comment below!

Tottori Prefecture – 鳥取県

Tottori sand dunes
The Tottori Sand Dunes
Tottori Sand Dunes

Tottori is probably best known in Japan for its sand dunes. Yes, you read that right – sand dunes in Japan! They’re located at the heart of the San’in Kaigan Geopark – a nature park promoting the local economy and protecting the land and ocean environments. The dunes occur completely naturally, though efforts to conserve local forests as well as the coastline have helped protect the dunes. The height of the dunes are always changing, and though it isn’t clear in photos, the dunes slope down around 50 metres to the shore.

You can also pay for a camel ride around the sand dunes at the entrance from the car park! The dunes and the surrounding coastal vistas make the perfect backdrop as you explore the area. Nearby, the Sand Museum exhibits sand sculptures with a theme which changes each year, and top sand sculptors present their works here. There is also a small shopping centre, including souvenir shops as well as a small restaurant offering authentic Japanese meals.

砂丘 (さきゅう) sakyū = sand dune

らくだ rakuda = camel

uradome coast
Uradome Coast
Uradome Coast

You can also go seaward to get a better view of the scenery. A little further East is the Uradome coast, where you can take boat trips around the picturesque coastal inlet of Iwami. Marine erosion has resulted in plenty of natural sea walls, cliffs, caves, rock towers and more, creating a beautiful seascape to weave through. The boat trip is an opportunity to sit back and enjoy the tranquility of the turquoise oceans alongside the incredible natural landscape. I really recommend experiencing the boat trip if you visit the prefecture, particularly in Summer!

浦富海岸 (うらどめ かいがん) uradome kaigan = Uradome Coast

tottori map of japan - hakuto shrine
Hakuto Shrine

The final site on my Tottori list is the Hakuto Shrine, just a 15-minute car-ride from the sand dunes. Located just a stone’s throw from Hakuto beach, the Hakuto Shrine is a small Shinto Shrine a short stroll into the woods. It is incredibly peaceful with a pond just opposite the main shrine. The Hakuto Shrine is deeply associated with romance in Japan, owing its origins to a prominent ancient love story in Japanese mythology.

It is said to be ‘Japan’s first love story’ and follows the tale of a white rabbit trying to get to the mainland from an island just offshore. After finding himself in life-threatening predicaments, he meets the king’s sons on their way to propose to the princess. One of these men takes pity on the rabbit and helps heal and revitalise the rabbit. Out of gratitude the white rabbit proffers a divine prediction that the man will marry the princess instead of the other sons. Look out for our future post all about the White Hare of Inaba!

白兎神社 (はくと じんじゃ) hakuto jinja = Hakuto Shrine

hakuto shrine gate tori

The white rabbit is associated with this shrine, and together they are a symbol of matchmaking and romantic fortune. Visitors often purchase special charms (omamori) intended to protect your relationship or to help start a relationship with someone you admire. At this shrine you can also have your goshuinchō signed – you can see it in my post all about goshuinchō! Once you’re done, why not stroll down to the beach and take in the scenery. From Hakuto beach, you can even see the nearby islands and the Shinto tori atop them – it is said that in the tale above, the white rabbit made his way from Oki island!

お守り (おまもり) omamori = good fortune charms

御朱印帳 (ごしゅいんちょう) special book for collecting shrine/temple ‘seals’

鳥居 (とりい) torii = Shinto shrine gate

Thanks for joining me while I reminisce about some of my travels in Japan – I hope I’ve inspired you to go a little off the beaten track from the traditional tourist routes! Do you have any recommendations for travelling in Japan? Drop us a comment below – we’d love to hear some of your stories! While we impatiently wait our future travel plans, why not satisfy your Japanese interests with some of the bespoke gifts and authentic Japanese items available here at The Japanese Shop!

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