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Region
Chubu
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Shizuoka
Population
3,767,427

Nakatajima Sand Dunes

Move over Tottori — Nakatajima has baby turtles & kite battles.

If you’ve been in Japan long enough, you’ve probably heard of the Tottori sand dunes but how about the Nakatajima sand dunes in Shizuoka Prefecture? What makes Nakatajima sand dunes unique is that if you come at the right time, you can witness hundreds of sea turtles hatching.

Photo by: ©HVCB/©JNTO A romantic spot.

Located in Hamamatsu, the sandy oasis is one of the three largest sand dunes in Japan, including the Tottori sand dunes and Kujukurihama in Chiba. The dunes run four kilometers east to west and just over a half kilometer north to south along the churning Pacific Ocean. Although smaller in scale than the others, Nakatajima has something for nature lovers, matsuri (festival) diehards and photogs.

Go turtle watching

What makes Nakatajima sand dunes unique is that endangered loggerhead turtles lay their eggs there every May to August. Sanctuary Nature Center, a local non-profit, protects many of these eggs until they hatch and then release the babies back into the wild.

The eggs hatch between late August and October. See the youngsters in action on “Open Release Day” every weekend and national holiday from mid-August to the beginning of October (apply in advance to participate).

Photo by: misako_hasegawa Come in late August or October and see baby turtles!

Because the turtle nesting area is protected, don’t drive, light fireworks, or litter there. Too much noise, bright lights, and trash can prevent the turtles from coming ashore to lay their eggs and stop the babies from getting to the ocean quickly. Also, if you dare to drive on the beach, you may squash the newborns!

Go fly a kite

During Golden Week in May, Nakatajima sand dunes hosts one of the best kite flying festivals in Japan. Hamamatsu Festival dates back more than 400 years when the locals flew kites to celebrate the birth of the first son of one of Hamamatsu’s rulers.

Which castle is nearby?

During the festival, from May 3 to May 5, hundreds of huge kites jostle one other in the sky. When the kite battles are over, the city streets awaken with music and a parade of giant floats.

Even if you can’t make the festival, you can still see many kites and other exhibits at the Hamamatsu Festival Pavilion in nearby Enshunada Seaside Park. Here, you can also learn to make and fly your own kite (advance reservations necessary).

Locals adore the location for hatsuhinode (first sunrise of the New Year) and dreamy sunsets. Photographers also love Nakatajima for its trademark sand ripples. If you want to see them at their best, visit during winter.

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Trivia

Hamamatsu Castle

Check out Shizuoka's "Castle of Success."

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Things To Know

Fees

Nakatajima sand dunes: free; Hamamatsu Festival Pavilion: Adults: ¥400; elementary and middle school students: free.

Hours

Nakatajima Sand Dunes: Open all the time; Hamamatsu Festival Pavilion: Open 7 days a week except from Dec. 29 – 31: 9 a.m. – 4.30 p.m.

Other events

If you’re interested in attending Hamamatsu Festival, please see the official website for more details: http://hamamatsu-daisuki.net/matsuri. If you’d like to attend an Open Release Day with the Sanctuary Nature Center, please see the official website for more details: https://www.sanctuarynpo.jp/english

How To Get There

By train

Take the Tokaido-Sanyo bullet train from Tokyo station to Hamamatsu station. Then, take the No. 6 bus from the bus terminal at the station for about 15-20 minutes.

Where To Stay

Hotel JIN (Adult Only)
  • Minami ku Nakatajima cho 1103 Hamamatsu-Shi, Shizuoka 430-0845
  • 7.5/10
  • 0.7 km
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Hamamatsu Hotel
  • Naka-ku Sunayama-cho 362-25 Hamamatsu-Shi, Shizuoka 430-0926
  • 7.8/10
  • 4.1 km
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APA Hotel Hamamatsu Eki Minami
  • Naka-ku Ebitsuka 2-3-1 Hamamatsu-Shi, Shizuoka 432-8033
  • 6.6/10
  • 4.1 km
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Hotel Water Gate Hamamatsu (Adult Only)
  • Minami-ku Kuramatsu-cho 3969-3 Hamamatsu-Shi, Shizuoka 432-8064
  • 4.2 km
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