If you’ve read my previous post on Japan’s little Star Wars – like get away, the Tottori Sand Dunes, you’ll know that the sand dunes are more than just a few hills of dust to take pictures at. There are many things to do here that can easily occupy an entire day. Below are my top 7 picks to keep you out in the sandbox.
1. Walk…just walkThese rolling hills of sand cover over 30 square kilometers and stretch for 16 kilometers from east to west. Don’t head straight to the tourist spots. The “Official Scenic Views” can wait. Go explore the hours of undiscovered locations and have time to yourself. Who knows, there are so many random items buried in the sand and hidden throughout the dunes that you might just find something interesting.
2. Check out the beachWhilst on your walk about, you will eventually run out of room. That is because the dunes literally empty out into the Sea of Japan. This blew my mind. I’m used to the heat and the sand, I was born and raised in the desert, after all. But I have never seen waves beat against 40 foot tall dunes forcing them to shift against the weight of the ocean. Have you?
3. Hiking Part of walking around this monumental landscape involves a little bit of hiking…if you want to. Its not traditional hiking. Remember those 40 foot tall sand piles I told you about? Some of those are quite fun to hike up and down, however; be careful for they can be quite steep. Some can seem to be almost 90 degrees. Your thighs will be feeling it, for sure.
4. Paragliding Feeling the burn from those hills? Finally at the tip top overlooking the ocean? Now’s the perfect time to give them a break and do some paragliding over the sand. That’s right, for a fee you can attend a paragliding school and get a birds eye view of Tottori’s unique landscape. You can take lessons for half a day, an entire day, and even tandem with another person, for those romantic types.
Price: Half Day = ¥7,000 Full Day = ¥10,500 Tandem = ¥10,500
For more information go to these sites:
English – Tottrip!
Official Website (only in Japanese) – Glide!
5. SandboardingPersonally, I don’t like being up in the air; it freaks me out. I like feeling grounded and connected to wherever I am and for me, there is no better sport for experiencing that feeling than snowboarding. Of course, there is no snow here but the sand is a perfect substitute. Just like the paragliding, a small area of the sand dunes has been blocked off for some wicked boarding at the only possible place in Japan and one of the few places on Earth.
For more information check out these websites for directions, contact information and more:
English Website – Tottrip!
Official Website (only in Japanese) – Sandboard
6. Be Nice To The CamelsAll throughout Asia you will find opportunities to ride various kinds of animals for a “once in a lifetime experience.” Luckilyi, people are starting to realize how cruel some of the living conditions happen to be, such as the case with elephant rides in Thailand. The camels of tottori might not be in the same condition, but the fact that they are only allowed to walk people for 20 yards or so doesn’t really dissuade my doubts. Due to that, I just pet them and recommend you be be nice to the cuties. Take some pictures, talk to them, but don’t poke and prod.
7. Sand Sculptures
Who doesn’t find sculptures impressive? If you read my post about Japan’s Snow Festival, you’ll know that Japan really digs sculptures and Tottori is no exception. The Sand Museum boasts many different sand sculptures inspired by events, stories, and history from all over the world and completed by phenomenal global artists. From fairy tale castles, to local wildife and even contemporary commentary on European politics, you’ll never know what to expect. Personally, my favorite was the piece symbolizing the reunification of East and West Germany and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Way to go Japan!
Go to their website here for more information: Sand Museum!
These 7 activities aside, there is a lot to do at the dunes and even more to do in Tottori itself. Do not miss out on this incredibly off the beaten path experience and if you do go, don’t forget to think about Star Wars!