Tottori Sand Dunes 鳥取砂丘
The dunes of Tottori feature camels that tourists ride every day.
Sometimes vegetation sprouts in the wetter parts of the dunes.
Whatever the weather, the dunes are always popular!
This sand sculpture was displayed the year Indonesia was featured at the sand museum.
Hot sand, scorching summer sun, camels... You might be thinking of the Sahara, but no! We're in Tottori, on the north coast of the Chugoku region.
This natural wonder has a long history: for thousands of years the waters of the Sendai River have carried sediment from the formerly active volcano Mount Daisen to the Sea of Japan. The combination of sea currents and winds eventually created the Tottori sand dunes.
The dunes are nearly sixteen kilometers long and two kilometers wide, making them the largest dunes in Japan. Their height varies, since they change shape and height with the winds, but they rarely exceed fifty meters high. The highest dune remains the Uma no Se, literally the "horseback" dune.
From the top of the dunes there's a wonderful view of the Sea of Japan. But take care, the sand can be very hot with extreme weather conditions - high temperatures and strong winds.
To complete the desert picture, it is even possible to take a ride on a camel or by horse-drawn cart!
There is also a cable car that takes you to the top of an adjacent hill and grants beautiful views over the dunes.
A little more sand
Next to the dunes, you will find the famous Tottori Sand Museum, built to house the incredible sand sculptures created every year by artists from around the world for a competition held here. They change annually, so you won't see the same sculpture twice.
Nearby, there are some small shops serving delicious pear ice cream, a specialty of the region.