Region
Chugoku
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Tottori
Population
613,229

Tottori City

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

Tottori city is a place known for looking at things from a different perspective. Here you’ll find most things have a unique twist.The capital city of Tottori prefecture lies in the northeastern with its beautiful beaches facing out towards the Sea of Japan. The sandy oases are also home to some of Japan’s biggest beach parties in the summer months.

Being only a third the size of Tokyo with just a fraction of the population, Tottori city is a much more manageable city to visit, yet is still jam packed with things to do. A place of art and culture built atop a history of dramatic sieges and noble families, there is much more here than meets the eye.

A camel looking out over the Tottori sand dunes

Take a camel ride in Tottori!

Sandy attractions

Tottori’s most impressive example of their unique thinking is the sand museum. The prefecture is famous for its sand dunes — not normally something that comes to mind when you think of “Japan,” right?

While this may seem very mundane, it’s actually anything but. Inside The Sand Museum has sand molded into beautiful statues. There are famous buildings, people, animals and abstract sculptures all perfectly shaped from sand. They are very fragile and collapse over time, so new installations are constantly being unveiled. This means every time you visit the museum, it will be a new experience.

Photo by: Ember Eyes Yes, this is just sand!

The museum was opened in 2006 to compliment the natural beauty of the Tottori sand dunes. Sculpted by nature rather than man, these flowing golden hills are one of the most picturesque spots in Japan. They span 16 kilometers along the coast line, forming beautiful beaches like nowhere else in Honshu. The dunes can be 2-km wide, 50 meters high and are all protected as part of the Sanin Kaigan National Park.

On the beaches you can rent fat-tire bikes that won’t get stuck in the sand, or if you really want to travel in style you can ride a camel, as camel rides are one of the attractions of the dunes. For the adventurous, you can slide down the dunes on boards and skim across by paragliding.

Tottori Sand Dunes Tottori Prefecture

Tottori Sand Dunes are right on the Sea of Japan.

Brimming with history

Back into the city are more great sights, such as Jinpukaku, a French renaissance-style mansion built for the Ikeda family who used to rule the area. The Tottori Prefectural Museum boasts a wealth of local art and history allowing visitors to discover how the region developed its own identity.

36 Hours in Tottori

Tottori’s castle ruins are also a must see. Once a mighty fortress that withstood a 200-day siege, the castle was built into the mountain side, using nature to make it extremely defensible. Unfortunately, now there is little left, only a few castle walls and gate. The location is still a great place to learn about the feudal history of the area.

If you want to learn more about the history of Tottori then you can experience some of it first hand by going to the impressive Kannon-in, a fantastic Edo period Buddhist Temple.

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Trivia

36 Hours in Tottori

How does this tiny prefecture with a population of less than 600,000 make you feel so connected to a culture that isn’t your own? Hope you’re up for the answer and 36 hours of discovery in Tottori.

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Things To Know

Hours

Hours for the Tottori Sand Museum vary due to changing exhibits. Please see up-to-date info on their official page: www.sand-museum.jp/en/?page_id=68   | Tottori Prefectural Museum: Closed on Mondays, otherwise open weekly from 9 a.m. to 17 a.m. (Note:  From April to October, open until 7 p.m. on weekends/holidays.)

Fees

Sand Museum: ¥600 to enter  | Camel rides: ¥1,300 for one rider, ¥2500 for two on the same camel. There is an extra ¥100 charge for taking a photograph.  | Bike: ¥5,000 for a standard 120 minute session | Paragliding: ¥7,000 for a standard 180 minute session. | Tottori Prefectural Museum:  ¥180

How To Get There

Address

680-0835, Japan

By train

Take the bullet train from Tokyo to Himeji station (3 hours), then take the Limited express super Hakuto 9 train bound for Tottori. (1 hour and 30 minutes).

By car

Take the Tomei expressway to Chugoku, then take the Tottori express way for Tottori city.

By plane

You can fly to Tottori Sand Dunes Conan Airport from Haneda (1 hour and 20 minutes.)

Where To Stay

Hotel New Otani Tottori
  • Imamachi 2-153 Tottori-Shi, Tottori 680-0822
  • 7.4/10
  • 0.1 km
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Hotel Resh Tottori Ekimae
  • Sakaemachi 752 Tottori-Shi, Tottori 680-0831
  • 8.2/10
  • 0.1 km
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Super Hotel Tottori Ekimae
  • Ogimachi 5 Tottori-Shi, Tottori 680-0846
  • 8.5/10
  • 0.2 km
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Tottori Washington Hotel Plaza
  • Higashihonji-cho 102 Tottori-Shi, Tottori 680-0835
  • 7.3/10
  • 0.2 km
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