There is an image that comes to mind for people who have traveled to Japan before and it is filled with neon light covered buildings in contrast to beautiful greenery. However, in the Chugoku region is a place called Tottori. Tottori City is located along the coast facing the Sea of Japan. It is most famous for its Sand Dunes, which receive over 2 million visitors a year both foreign and domestic. The sand dunes are constantly changing shape as the wind and sea currents bring in new sediments to the area. Once you discover this mini desert you cannot help, but think of singing “Arabian Nights” from Aladdin. Especially when there are camels available for you to ride around. Be warned that the sand burns and it is recommended to wear something other than sandals when walking through the area.
Sand Dunes Center
Now if all you want to do is take a photo of the sand dunes then you can head to the third floor of the Sand Dunes Center (砂丘センター). From there you can see it from a distance with the Sea of Japan in the background. The center also has a restaurant and shop on the first floor. There you will find many pear flavored souvenir snacks since Tottori is known for being a major producer of the fruit. I would recommend having the pear flavored soft served ice cream while you are there. If you want to take the sand back with you there are a few items you can get in the shop like an hour glass. Outside the center is a chair lift station that you can take to reach the sand dunes. It crosses over a street and is entertaining to take for the low price of 300-yen one way. If not, then you can always walk down or park your car closer to the sand area.
The Sand Museum
The Sand Museum is down the street from the sand dunes and has two entrances. You can enter through the main entrance or the secondary entrance near the Sand Dunes Center. From the secondary entrance, there is an area you can take a great photo of the sand dunes and there are a few sculptures along the route to the museum. You can start from the 3rd floor or 2nd floor from that route. The main entrance starts on the 1st floor and you can see pictures of the previous exhibitions. The 2nd floor is the exhibition floor where you can see the works up close. The 3rd floor has a bird’s eye view of the exhibition area as well as a small shop and rest spot. This museum is unique in the sense that it changes every year with a different theme. For the 10th anniversary they decided on a United States of America theme. It covered various aspects of the US from music to historic political figures.