21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa
If sweeping desert vistas aren’t something you associate with Japan, that’s because you’ve never seen the Tottori Sand Dunes, a natural wonder crafted over the course of millennia that is guaranteed to take your breath away.
Climb a simple staircase at the entrance and you’ll be greeted by golden sands stretching nearly far as the eye can see, with steep cliffs overlooking and offering stunning views of the Sea of Japan. Indeed, it is the ocean currents—redepositing sand from the nearby Sendai River along the coast for some two thousand years—that are responsible for creating this unique miracle of nature.
You’re free to explore the vast sands on foot—or atop a camel for an even more authentic desert experience. Marvel at the myriad beautiful patterns etched in the sand by the wind—truly fine art birthed by nature—or, if you’re an outdoor sports enthusiast, experience the thrill of paragliding with the ocean in full view, or sand biking with off-road fat bikes.
Though the sand dunes can be enjoyed at any time of day, you’ll definitely want to stick around for the sunset—the burning sun and red skies over the sands will have you thinking you’ve traveled to another world. After exploring the sand dunes, take a stroll around the nearby town, which offers hot springs and a host of souvenir shops and restaurants. No matter how you choose to enjoy them, the Tottori Sand Dunes are a true miracle of nature sure to make an impression on even the most jaded traveler.
From Izumo Airport, take the shuttle bus to JR Matsue Station. From there, take the Express Tottori Liner to JR Tottori Station (about two hours). The sand dunes are about a 20-minute bus ride from Tottori Station.
Hours: The sand dunes are open year-round at all hours of the day. Camel rides are available from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in winter).
Admission: No admission fee is required to enter and explore the sand dunes. Camel rides are available for 1300 yen (for one person) or 2500 yen (for two). Sandboarding and paragliding can be enjoyed for free.
Tottori Sand Dune Geopark Center
2164-661 Fukubecho Yuyama, Tottori, Tottori Prefecture 689-0105