Tottori Sand Dunes – The largest sand dunes in Japan

If you have always reminisced childhood sand playing at playground or envisioned visiting a desert, visit the tottori sand dunes (also known as Tottori Sakyu, 鳥取砂丘) to satisfy your dream!

Located in the east of Tottori prefecture at western Japan, Tottori houses the largest sand dunes in the country, spanning an area of over 30 square kilometers. This breathtaking natural land formation was sculpted over the last 100,000 years by the constant cycle of sand re-deposition by nearby Sendaigawa River tides and coastal winds along Sea of Japan, 日本海.

Today, Tottori sand dunes continues to evolve into an ever-changing landscape and forms part of San’in Kaigan Geopark, 山陰海岸ジオパーク.

At first glance, it looks like a disappointing sand field with rough and dirty patches.

Further steps ahead, it was surreal and I felt in awe of the spectacular vast expanse of sand around me. The works of Mother Nature is simply magnificent! It reminds me of an endless sand playground. I believe this breathtaking view has excite many others too; old couples walking hand in hand beaming, children running and rolling on the sand; fun loving adults and families with exaggerated photo poses.

Check out the video.

I recommend you to climb the sand hill (also known as Umanose – “the horse’s back”) and you will be presented with a glorious coastal view of Sea of Japan on one side, and a panoramic view of the vast sand land around you on the other. With the light gentle whistling of wind, it’s a haven of tranquility.

There are various activities to enjoy at Tottori Sand Dune for a complete “sand” experience and of course, camel riding is top on the list! You can also find other activities such as ski lift for full bird’s eye viewing, horse-drawn cart rides, as well as thrilling paragliding and sandboarding. Thoughtful rental services for sand dune boots and slippers, and even wheelchairs with special tyres (complimentary) are available.

After an interesting sand dune experience, you may want to immerse in the world of sand sculpturing at The Sand Museum, 砂の美術館 across the road. Admire the art masterpieces by world-class sand sculptors who painstakingly bring sand sculptures alive. As sand sculptures are fragile and prone to collapse, do not miss the opportunity to capture their short-lived beauty within the 9 months of exhibit, typically from April till next January. Opening hours are from 9am to 6pm, admission fee at 600 yen for adults and 300 yen for children.

How to access Tottori Sand Dunes?

By car:

From Himeji – 2 hours drive
From Osaka – 2.5 hours drive

By Train:

From Himeji – 1.5 hours train ride via Ltd Exp Super Hakuto 1 to Tottori Station. Take a 20-minutes bus ride from bus stop #0 in front of Tottori Station and alight at the final stop. Cost of bus fare: 370 yen.

From Osaka – 2.5 hours train ride via Ltd Exp Super Hakuto 3 to Tottori Station. Take a 20-minutes bus ride from bus stop #0 in front of Tottori Station and alight at the final stop. Cost of bus fare: 370 yen.