Tottori is a sandy desert in Japan.
Japan is a country located on a mountainous, in some places volcanic, archipelago. The presence of sand here is almost not provided by nature. Therefore, if you say “desert in Japan,” many people have questions. However, in Japan, in the prefecture of Tottori, in the northeastern part of the city of the same name, there is a real sandy desert with dunes and camels.
Let’s just say the Tottori Sand Dunes is not really a desert, but rather a large area of sand dunes that looks almost like a desert.
Where is Tottori
The Japanese desert is located in the southern part of Honshu, the country’s largest island. The desert dunes extend for about 8 kilometers along the west coast of the island. For the most part, it’s just an ordinary sandy beach. But one section is the most attractive. It is what is called the Tottori Sand Dunes. It covers about 2 kilometers of coastline and up to 1,200 meters inland.
Where did the desert in Japan come from
The Tottori Desert was formed by sediments brought by the Sendai River from the Zhugoku Mountains into the Sea of Japan. The local landscape, sea currents, and wind make the sand drift up the coast. The winds constantly change the shape of the dunes.
Dunes can reach heights of 50 meters above sea level and can have 40-degree slopes. The dunes are over 100,000 years old, but their area is steadily shrinking due to the government’s post-World War II restoration program. In addition, the concrete fences erected to protect the coast from tsunamis have disrupted the currents that formed the Japanese desert.
Technically, the Tottori Desert is not a desert at all, but the temperature of the sand in summer on sunny days can exceed 50o C. The dunes are part of Sanin Kaigan National Park. Tottori’s sand dunes attract about 2 million visitors each year.
There are several attractions around the dunes. You can ride exotic for these places camels. Ride quad bikes on the sands. On the coast tourists can fly on a paraglider. Some local companies offer an interesting entertainment. It is snowboarding in the sand.
Not far from the dunes is the Sand Museum. It displays large sand sculptures by artists from around the world. In the past, sand exhibitions were held outdoors and in temporary structures, but in 2012, the Sand Museum moved into its permanent building.
The exhibitions change annually and run from mid-April to early January of the following year. Each exhibition has a different theme, usually a country or region. In 2018, the theme of the exhibition is Scandinavia. The exhibition will run from April 14, 2018 through January 6, 2019.
How to get there
From Tottori Station, take the bus heading to Tottori Sakyu and get off at the last stop. The one-way trip takes 20 minutes and costs 370 yen. In addition, on weekends, national holidays, and during the summer vacations (July 20 to August 31), the Kirin Jishi bus runs from Tottori Station to the sand dunes. Cabs are also available.
Sand Museum opening hours
The museum is open from 9:00 to 18:00 (until 20:00 on Saturdays). Remember that the entrance closes 30 minutes before closing time. Entry fee ¥600
9:30 to 16:30 (March to November) 10:00 to 16:00 (December to February) Camel rental costs ¥1300 (1 person), ¥2500 (2 people)
Tottori Sand Dunes in Japan
In March of this year, having visited Japan for the first time, in a JNTO questionnaire about my impressions, when asked what place in that country I would like to visit again, I answered “Tottori Prefecture” without a doubt. A person from Vladivostok has always heard of Tottori, because the representatives of that region of Japan are the most active in promoting themselves in our city. And who would have thought – I’m here!
First of all, of course, I visited the world famous sand dunes, stretching 16 kilometers along the Sea of Japan, and met the coolest sunset there. Walking on them, riding a camel, or watching the sunset from the highest sand mountain gathers tourists from different parts of Northeast Asia. I would recommend visiting this place just at sunset – very beautiful! It’s free to enter but for a fee of 1,300 yen you can ride a real camel and you’d better get there early because the queue of people who want to join is endless.
There is also the world’s first sand sculpture museum. Every year the exposition changes, for example, this year it is dedicated to the United States, and in 2014 – to Russia. The next post will be about it.
Despite the fact that Japan is known to everyone as a state consisting only of islands, its territory is quite diverse. Along with plains, mountainous terrain and high volcanoes, Japan also boasts its own desert. The dunes of Tottori were formed at the confluence of the Sendai River into the Sea of Japan, which brought so much sand. Of course, it does not look as vast and impressive as the Takla Makan Desert in China, but still.
This is the kind of elevator that takes tourists from the Sand Museum’s vantage point to the top of the barkhan.
This Japanese desert with an area of only 30 square kilometers was formed quite a long time ago – its age is at least a hundred thousand years. Despite its small size, the dunes of Tottori are really like a real desert – the temperature during the day here can reach sixty degrees. The winds are constantly changing the shape of the dunes, and the slopes of some of them can be really steep – at times the slope reaches 40 degrees.
September is optimal here!
Further cards about the location:
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