Located a short distance from the center of Tottori City on the Sea of Japan coast, the massive Tottori Sand Dunes attract more than two million visitors every year. The dunes are a really impressive site, and a good starting point for exploring this relatively undiscovered prefecture.
The sand dunes are a 20-minute bus ride from Tottori Station.
The Tottori Sand Dunes have existed for over 100,000 years. The Sendai River carries sediment from the nearby Chugoku Mountains that eventually washes out into the Sea of Japan. Strong sea currents and winds work together to push these sediments back onto the shore to form the sand dunes.
These same intense winds continuously move and re-shape the dunes. Over millennia, the sand deposits have created a 30-square kilometer golden landscape that stretches nearly 16 kilometers along the coast. Some of the dunes reach a towering 50 meters.
For many, a couple of hours spent around the largest of the dunes will be enough to feel amazed, snap some photos and enjoy the spectacular view. However, there are other fun activities too, like paragliding or sandboarding.
Consider taking a leisurely ride on one of the dunes' iconic camels, or board the chairlift to the Sakyu Center's observation deck for the best view of the coast. Don't miss the Sand Museum, where you can learn more about the geology and ecology of this special area.
Fat-bike tours are available. “Fat” refers to the giant-sized tires fitted to the mountain bikes, which makes it possible to ride along the dunes' sandy paths and the shoreline. It's a fantastic way to explore the quieter expanses of sand and sea and leave the other visitors behind.
For adventurous travelers with a more flexible schedule, the Tottori Sand Dunes make a great starting point for exploring the rest of the prefecture.
Away from the crowds and souvenir shops, amazing discoveries await in a corner of Japan rarely seen by outsiders. Hike the holy mountains of Mitoku or Daisen, soak in the lovely baths at Misasa Onsen, visit the quaint town of Wakasa, or explore the Yonago Mizutori Waterbird Park to see unique wildlife and learn about conservation in Japan.