Tottori Sand Dunes

Totoro happy in Tottori

Memorial weekend is around the corner, which for most means lots of quality beach time! I, too, am eagerly looking forward to a beach weekend, and thinking about the last time I was relaxing on the sand sparked a flashback to my visit to the Tottori Sand Dunes in Japan. Granted, I was rocking boots and a down jacket because it was mid-March so the experience was a little different. That, and the camel that strolled by reminded me that I was more in a mini-desert rather than at Zuma beach in Malibu.

The Tottori sand dunes are located in the northern part of western Japan. It’s a natural formation that was created over thousands of years from sand being brought in from the Chūgoku Mountains via the Sendai River. The sand dunes are located in east Tottori and span over 16 kilometers and the tallest dunes can be as high as 50 meters. Hiking up those suckers can prove to be a bit of a workout, but the panoramic view of the sea and the dunes once you reach the top makes it worth it.

Getting to Tottori can be kind of a pain but if you have the time to make it out there I would definitely recommend it. Fyi, part of the train ride isn’t covered by the Japan rail pass so you have to fork over some extra yen. They’ll explain this at the station, but if you know before you go you won’t be a confused gaijin looking at the station attendants with an empty look like I did. ::blink blink:: Tottori is about a 2 1/2 hr train ride from Osaka, then you can catch a 20 min bus to get to the dunes itself.

I particularly loved visiting this area because it is not what I would have imagined out of a typical trip to Japan. I think most people immediately see the temples and shrines, maybe the fantastic skiing up north, and of course all the FOOD, but there are so many other gems in the country that are worth checking out too.

Can you tell that I’m already daydreaming about my next vacation?

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