Sun, sand, and ski
From camel riding to skiing and manga to monks, Tottori Prefecture is full of surprises.
Tottori sits on the coast of the Chugoku Region on the western side of Japan. Majestic dunes are Tottori’s claim to fame, but that barely brushes the surface. Venture beyond the sandy coast, and you’ll find a hiker’s paradise and a whimsical kingdom of manga.
Tottori Sand Dunes
You’ll need to visit Tottori City to see the dunes. They stretch 16km along the San-in coastline and are the only large dunes found in Japan. Hiking around the dunes and taking in the spectacular views is rewarding enough, but there’s also paragliding and sandboarding for a different perspective. You can go for a stroll across the dunes on a camel for an experience right out of Aladdin.
Hiking Japan's Most Dangerous Temple
Manga fans might also recognize 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—known abroad as Case Closed.
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 features 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 world of Detective Conan.
Hiking and spiritual escapes in Tottori
In the west of the prefecture, sacred Mount Daisen carries summer hikers and winter skiers straight from the ocean up into the clouds. Once a flourishing center of Shugendo or mountain worship, Daisen is the former training ground of more than 3,000 warrior monks and continues to play host to several religious rituals throughout the year.
Even though it’s the highest mountain in the Chugoku region, it’s relatively easy to reach the summit. About three hours of hiking will get you to Misen Peak, which has beautiful views of the Sea of Japan. Explore the holy sites of Daisen-ji and Ogamiyama shrine on your way.
The climbing season opens over the first weekend of June with an extraordinary medieval-style torchlight parade at night. Anybody is welcome to take part, but 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 1,300 years ago, Nageiredo Hall juts out impossibly from a hollow in the cliffside. Hiking the trails of Mitoku is a real adventure. Some sections are near vertical with chains attached to help climbers scale the rocks. Don’t forget to pack your best hiking shoes!
Explore all that Tottori has to offer at the locations below.