Tottori (鳥取) and its sand dunes are among the best reasons to visit western Japan. There's more to do than climbing and collecting seashells hang-gliders, sandboards, and even camels await.


Tottori Sand Dunes

It's useless. The sand can swallow up cities and countries, if it wants to.

Kobo Abe's existential meditation on sand and work, The Woman in the Dunes, was published in 1964. Although the novel does not mention Tottori by name, it was a natural choice for the film adaptation of Abe's book. "There has never been sand photography like this (no, not even in Lawrence of Arabia)," said Roger Ebert, of the Oscar-nominated film.

You will, almost certainly, have a better visit than did the story's protagonist, Niki Junpei; come to collect insects, Junpei was fascinated by the patterns and movement of the sand, and missed the last train. Locals offered him lodging for the night, but the next morning, Junpei discovered that he was a prisoner at the bottom of a sandpit, which he and an unnamed woman must shovel out every day in order to keep the house and village from being swallowed in the endless, enigmatic movement of the sand.

The city itself is the industrial center of the prefecture, with several big electronics factories for companies like Sanyo. The fishing industry is also quite lively. There are also two universities, which attract agricultural students and researchers from other parts of Japan and a small number of foreign students. Although the number of foreign residents in Tottori is low, compared to other major cities in Japan, its 250,000 locals are certainly friendly and thoroughly unlikely to strand you at the bottom of a sand pit.

Tourist information

Get in

Map of Tottori

By air

ANA runs four daily flights from Tokyo's Haneda Airport (about 75 minutes).

By train

Tottori is on the JR San'in Main Line, which travels along the coast from Kyoto to Shimonoseki. Okayama is about 2 hours south via the JR Tsuyama Line and the JR Imbi Line.

By bus

Express buses serve Tottori from Hamamatsu-cho in Tokyo (¥10,200), Osaka's Namba Terminal (¥6000, 2 1/2 hours) or JR Bentencho Station (¥3600), Kyoto (¥3870), Okayama and Nishinomiya Kita (¥3000), Hiroshima (¥4400), and Fukuoka (¥9500).

Get around

Loop Kirinjishi bus

By bus

There are two buses in Tottori: the Loop Kirinjishi and the ¥100 Bus Kururi. For the sand dunes and port, take the Loop Kirinjishi bus. A special sakyū bus runs from the train and central bus station it plays the sand dunes' theme song as it goes by.

The ¥100 Bus has three routes: Red, Green and Blue. The buses depart every 20 minutes from JR Tottori Station. As the name suggests, trips of any distance are ¥100.

On foot

The city center, between the train station and Mt. Kyusho, is easily navigable on foot. From downtown, a wide and pleasant greenbelt leads to the beach. Starting from JR Tottori Station, walk west about 5 blocks to find the river, Sendai-gawa. Head right when you find the path. The walk takes about 45 minutes. To get to the sand dunes, it is best to take the bus. Walking is possible, but it will take a few hours to get there.


The White Rabbit of Inaba

Just offshore at Hakuto Beach is a small island that is part of a local folktale. The story goes that a rabbit was trapped on the island, longing to return to his family on the mainland. He tricked a family of sharks into lining up so he could hop on their backs to the shore, but as he reached the last shark, he sneered that he had deceived them; enraged, the sharks tore off all the rabbit's fur. To make matters worse, some cruel gods told the rabbit he would be cured if he bathed in the sea, which he did, only to find that the salt stung his wounds quite badly. The youngest brother of the gods, Okuninushi no Mikoto, felt sorry for the crying rabbit, and told him to bathe in fresh water and dry off with cattails. The rabbit was cured and predicted that the god would become the ruler of the Inaba region, which came true. Reminders of this story abound in the Tottori area, and you will see the white rabbit on everything from bridges to sewer grates to flower arrangements, sometimes accompanied by a rather fat god carrying a big sack.

Entrance to Tottori Castle Ruins
Jinpukaku Mansion

Outside the city center

Ube Shrine Honden


Sand Dunes

There's a lot to do at the sand dunes. Pay close attention to operating days/seasons and make reservations before getting your heart set on a specific activity, though.


With the Sea of Japan as its northern border, Tottori has some excellent beaches.




Walking east from the station, you will find a string of small shops lining the main street to the right. Kato Kamiten, a stationary shop in the second block east, has an colorful and interesting selection of locally-produced paper on its second floor.


Tottori is most famous for its pears; cookies, cakes, and other sweets are made from them. Have a look at the omiyage shop in the train station, at the local handcraft shop two blocks up the main street, or in the basement floor of Daimaru. Another local specialty is shallots, grown in huge fields out near the sand dunes and pickled for appetizers.

Crab and white squid are the best of the local catch.

There is a reasonable kaitenzushi (conveyor-belt sushi) restaurant, as well as other restaurants inside the Shamine department store in JR Tottori Station. A number of popular chain restaurants can be found in the city center, such as Wara Wara (笑笑), Doma Doma (どまどま), and Shirokiya (白木屋).


To find the main drinking district, which is an area about 2 blocks by 3 blocks, walk about two blocks up the main street from the train station, take a right and go down about a block. There are plenty of izakaya and small pubs.


Garden at Kannon-in, Tottori





Go next

Routes through Tottori

Yonago Yurihama  W  E  Shinonsen Kyoto

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, November 26, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.