Region
Chugoku
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Tottori
Population
613,229

Tottori

Sun, sand and ski

From camel-riding to skiing and manga to melons; Tottori is a prefecture that’s full of surprises.

The majestic sand dunes are Tottori’s surprising emblem but they make up just one piece of the puzzle of natural wonders within the prefecture.

Tottori Sand Dunes Tottori Prefecture

The Tottori sand dunes were formed over nearly 100,000 years thanks to a combination of ocean winds and volcanic ash from a Mount Daisen eruption.

You’ll need to head to Tottori City to see the sakyu, which stretch cinematically 16 km along the San-in coastline. Hiking around the dunes and taking in the spectacularly majestic views is rewarding enough, but there’s also paragliding and sand boarding for a different perspective. Taking up residence here are a group of haughty camels, offering up a Lawrence of Japanarabia experience – when they feel like it.

The Uradome coast is a great place for boat cruising, sorkeling and scuba diving

The dramatic Uradome coastline is chock full of marine activities.

For beaches, boat cruises and water sports, make your way to the rugged Uradome coast just next door, where hot spring baths merge with the ocean at serene spots like Kaike onsen. Cliffs, caverns and rocks can be explored by boat cruise or kayak, and there’s snorkelling around the azure shores of Iwami.

Manga fans might also recognise Tottori as the hometown for several famous artists, including Mizuki Shigeru of wonderfully-weird Gegege no Kitaro fame, and Gosho Aoyama, the creator behind the hugely successful Detective Conan, or Case Closed as it’s known abroad.

One of the 153 yokai statues that line Mizuki Shigeru Road in Sakaiminato

Head to the Mizuki Shigeru museum in Sakaiminato to discover more about the author’s life and works.

Take the “Manga Kingdom” tour along the coast from Sakaiminato to Kurayoshi and discover a whimsical world of supernatural characters and detective heroes. The Mizuki Shigeru Road outside JR Sakaiminato station is lined with more than 150 bronze statues of yokai (spirits or demons) that emerged from the artist’s peculiar psyche. In nearby Houkei, the Gosho Aoyama Manga Factory features original drawings and replicas of tricks and inventions from the popular world of Conan.

In the west of the prefecture, sacred Mount Daisen carries summer hikers and winter skiers straight from the ocean up into the clouds. The highest mountain in the Chugoku region, it’s still a relatively easy hike to the summit.

Three hours up will take you Misen peak for beautiful views of the Sea of Japan, and you can explore the holy sites of Daisen-ji and Ogamiyama shrine on your way.

Summer Climbing Festival Opening Ceremony

Anyone can take part in the Natsuyama Opening Festival. Just rock up, pay ¥500 for a torch and join the parade from 19.00.

Once a flourishing center of Shugendo or mountain worship, Daisen is the former training ground of more than 3000 warrior monks and continues to play host to a number of religious rituals throughout the year.

The climbing season opens over the first weekend of June and is marked with an extraordinary medieval-style torchlight parade at night – anybody is welcome to take part; torches are handed out on a first-come-first-served basis. In the winter, the slopes transform into the popular Oku-Daisen Ski Resort

Between Daisen and Tottori city, Mount Mitoku is slightly more off-the-beaten-track. Built more than 1300 years ago, Nageiredo Hall juts out impossibly from a hollow in the cliff side – architects are still unable to work out how the temple was built. Hiking the trails of Mitoku is a real adventure; some sections are near vertical with chains attached to help climbers scale the rocks.

Places to visit

Landscape of mountain reflection of Mount Daisen in a pond

Mount Daisen

Lost and found on the highest mountain in western Japan.

Statue if Medama-Oyaji outside Sakaiminato station.

Tottori Manga Kingdom

Follow the manga brick road.


Kurayoshi

And the award for most picturesque scene goes to...

Misasa Onsen

Rest and recoup at this all-healing hot spring town.


Hakuto Beach

Beach by day, camping by night, plus a shrine dedicated to one famous rabbit

Wakasa Temple Tottori

Wakasa

Mountainous and magical.


Kura coffee

3 Surprising Eats and Drinks in Kurayoshi, Tottori

From a cat selling roasted sweet potatoes to 12-colored cuisine, this historical city in Tottori is full of surprises.

Tottori sand dunes in Tottori prefecture, Chugoku region

Tottori City

Thanks to the dunes and beachy blowouts, you'll look at sand in a totally new way.


Mabuya

A rebirth of local art, community and food.

Sanrakuso at Kansho-in Temple

Go forest bathing at Mount Daisen, try the hand-crafted Zen Burger and stay the night.

Other Destinations in Chugoku

Landscape of Tomonoura (in Fukuyama City, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan)

Hiroshima

It’s easy to think of Hiroshima as a victim but this prefecture doesn't let tragedy define it.

Koraku-en garden in Okayama on of the three great gardens in Japan

Okayama

If you'd like to experience charming rural living straight out of a picture book - come to Okayama.

The Izumo Taisha in Shimane Prefecture

Shimane

The secrets out in Shimane where the attractions are undeveloped and far-flung - and all the better for it.

Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan at Tsunoshima Bridge over the Sea of Japan.

Yamaguchi

The departure point for Kyushu and Korea, Yamaguchi bridges the urban and rural, the traditional and modern.