Tottori Sand Dunes: An Adventure in the Japanese Desert

Yes, Japan has a desert compete with camels, sane dunes and … a world class art museum with sand sculptures! This time, John heads to this barren wasteland devoid of vending machines for a taste of the Sahara – in Japan.

tottori sand dunes

100,000 years ago, this area turned into a desert because sand flew in from the sea accumulating over many millennia. The result is a 16 km by 2 km wide desert that was growing until about 50 years ago when the city residents decided enough was enough.

MORE HISTORY:
After World War 2, a barricade was built to prevent tsunami and residents planted trees to stop the desertification. Now the desert area is shrinking and because of its uniqueness and lure for domestic and international tourism, the residents no longer want to stop it. In fact, 6000 volunteers in 2015 come out every few months to put pull out the vegetation all in the name of ecology!

aerial sand dunes
(16 km by 2 km wide making it over half the size of Manhattan)

History and problems aside, this place rocks!
50 meter high sand dunes overlook the beautiful Sea of Japan to the horizon.

THE SAND MUSEUM:
I didn’t just come here for the sand dunes.
The SAND MUSEUM is a world class art museum produced by Chaen Katsuhiko who tells us his story and the reason why the Tottori Sand Dunes are so special in the world today.
Indeed, it’s become a center of sand sculpting with a massive indoor enclosure housing dozens of sand sculpture displays created by guest artists from around the world and a place of pride for the city to Tottori.

Every year THE SAND MUSEUM has a major theme with new designs, reusing the sand to make a new world for visitors. This year’s theme is South America and it’s history with a special emphasis on Rio DeJanaro which hosted the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

christ the redeemer japan

URL: http://www.sand-museum.jp/en/
Hours: 9:00 to 18:00 (entry until 17:30)
Closed between exhibits from January to Early April.
Entrance fee: 600 yen *Info in English

The Tottori Sakyu (Sand Dunes)
URL: http://sakyu.city.tottori.tottori.jp/ (Japanese only)

HOW TO GET TO TOTTORI CITY FROM TOKYO:
There are daily flights to Tottori Conan Airport from ANA and JAL from Haneda in Tokyo.
It’s best to book as far ahead as possible since the price is cheaper in advance. Foreign tourists may get a discount on the JAL and ANA English websites.

FROM OSAKA:
There are buses and trains but flying is still the fastest and easiest.
Daily flights from Itami Airport and Kansai.

FROM TOTTORI CONAN AIRPORT TO THE SAND DUNES:
There is a bus that goes directly to the sand dunes.
The sand dunes and museum are between the airport and central train station.
There are buses for 300 yen departing JR Tottori Station for the Sand Museum every 15-20 minutes.

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