Sunday, May 6, 2018

Chugoku Sanyo, San-in 中国地方山陽、山陰 - Tottori Sand Dunes (Tottori Sakyu) 鳥取砂丘, Sakyu Kaikan 砂丘会館

Visited 19.04.2015 (Sun)


Sand dunes = Tottori. This is one natural formation which I would least expect to see in Japan. When I first saw pictures of Tottori Sand Dunes on travel guide books, I told myself I will have to visit this place one day. In fact, sand dunes is already analogous to Tottori; whenever I had the chance to speak to locals in Japan and told them that I have been to Tottori Prefecture, the first question they would pop is whether I visited the sand dunes when I was there.



How is this formed?  I always thought sand dunes only appear in desserts but I was wrong. The area covered by Tottori's sand dunes is huge, measuring 16 km long from East to West and 2 km wide from North to South. The weathering process on the mountain ranges in San'in region produced fine sand particles which were carried by rain through Sendai River (千代川) into the Sea of Japan and accumulated on the seabed. Ocean winds which blew across the Sea of Japan brought these weathered material to the shore subsequently. This entire process perpetuated over the years and resulted in the formation of these magnificent looking sand dunes.

Standing at Uma no sei and looking back at how much I have trekked to climb up here.

Climbed onto Uma no sei to get a better view of the Sea of Japan. 
The coastline. 
Seeing is believing. Uma no sei 馬の背, the tallest sand dune here, is about 45 m high and is the spot most people would flock to, climbing their way up to the highest point. It was drizzling on the day of my visit, thus movement on the moist sand was more challenging than usual. The gradient of the slope is not gentle nearing the top but it is manageable in my opinion - just be prepared to get sand into your shoes along the way. A reward awaits upon reaching the top - as the sand dunes faces the Sea of Japan, a panoramic view of the coastline can be clearly seen right here, amid the gentle sea breeze that sweeps past continuously. To be surrounded by this beautiful scenery, the exhilarating feeling was beyond words to describe. How I wish I could stay here till sunset comes! Apart from strolling/running on this vast piece of land, there are other ways to enjoy the sand dunes such as paragliding, camel rides and horse carriages. Having camels roaming around here seemed to be the most apt since the sand dunes remind us of dessert except for the much cooler and bearable weather experienced here. In conclusion, I have to agree with the statement that one cannot claim that he/she has seen the best of Tottori if he/she has not been to the sand dunes!

Depending on the time of the year, nature forms different artistic patterns on the surface. 

An oasis! 
Sakyu Kaikan 砂丘会館
〒689-0105 鳥取県鳥取市福部町湯山2164
Operating hours: 0830 - 1700 hrs
http://sakyu.gr.jp/

Located just opposite the sand dunes, Sakyu Kaikan is like a rest house or Michi no eki (道の駅) which houses a souvenir shop and restaurant. Here, a huge array of Tottori’s specialty goods featuring 20th century pear (二十世紀梨) such as steamed cakes (this is my favourite of them all), chocolates, jellies, langue de chat, pies, wines and etc are on sale here. One exclusive item that I will strongly recommend everyone to try is 20th century pear flavoured soft serve. Sold here and Sakyu Center, the unbelievably rich pear juice infused soft serve will definitely satisfy any sweet tooth and make you crave for more! To date, this is still one of my favourite soft serve flavour I have eaten in Japan. The bus stop to board the bus returning to Tottori Station is also located nearby, therefore making this a great place to hang out while waiting for the bus to come.

20th century pear flavoured soft serve is a must try!

Drinking this can of 20th century pear felt like I was eating the fruit itself. 
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Tottori Sand Dunes (Tottori Sakyu) 鳥取砂丘
鳥取県鳥取市福部町湯山
http://www.tottori-guide.jp/tourism/tour/view/6



How to get there?

(1) By bus from Tottori Station Bus Terminal.

From Platform 0 at Tottori Station Bus Terminal:
- Nihonkotsu Bus 日本交通バス or Hinomaru Bus 日ノ丸バス, heading for sand dunes and Sand Art Museum via Sakyu line (砂丘線). Alight at Tottori Sakyu (Sakyu Kaikan) 鳥取砂丘(砂丘会館).
Bus fare = 370 yen
Bus schedule (search for "砂丘線"):
https://www.nihonkotsu.co.jp/bus/limousine_route/route_tottori.html

- Nihonkotsu's Loop Kirinjishi Bus ループ麒麟獅子, which operates on weekends and public holidays. This bus covers sightseeing spots such as Warabekan わらべ館, Tottori Castle remains 鳥取城跡, Watanabe Art Museum 渡辺美術館, sand dunes and Sand Art Museum. Alight at Tottori Sakyu (Sakyu Kaikan) 鳥取砂丘(砂丘会館).
Flat fare = 300 yen; One day pass = 600 yen
Bus schedule (search for "ループ麒麟獅子"):
https://www.nihonkotsu.co.jp/bus/limousine_route/route_tottori.html


(2) Chair lift from Sakyu Center 砂丘センター.
Operating hours: 0900 - 1700 hrs
One way = 200 yen
http://www.tottorisakyu.com/13315.html

For my trip, we took the Loop Kirinjishi Bus from Tottori Station and alighted at Sakyu Center. Visited the Sand Museum first. After that, I took the chair lift from Sakyu Center to the sand dunes. At Sakyu Center, there is an observatory located on the rooftop where visitors can get an excellent overview of the sand dunes and the Sea of Japan from an elevation.



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Video: A promotional video by Japan Tourism Agency featuring Tottori Sakyu.

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