Most foreign tourists usually visit the Kansai, Kanto or Hokkaido regions in Japan. Comparatively, the Chugoku region in Japan is not so popular with foreign tourists. I am quite happy that I get to explore two prefectures in Chugoku region: Hiroshima and Tottori. I would love to see Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture and the famous Okayama castle next time. So many different things to see in Japan! I took a day bus from Hiroshima bus station to Tottori (~ 5.5 hours). Tottori is most famous for its sand dunes which are the largest in Japan. The sand dunes are made famous by the classic film “The Woman in the Dunes” in 1964. I have never seen sand dunes before so I was really excited to see them. Tottori city is actually very small and there are so many hotels given its size so much so that Tottori city seems to be catered for tourists. Contrary to my expectations, very few people spoke English there. The staff at the hotel did not speak any English but thankfully, the lady at the tourist information counter spoke English. I guess that is because Tottori does not have too many foreign tourists; Tottori caters mainly for local tourists. I was also surprised that the bus frequency to famous Tottori Sand Dunes is not as great as I would imagine it to be – the bus frequency is 1 hour!
Thankfully, Tottori Sand Dunes did not disappoint. In fact, the sand dunes exceeded my expectations. Tottori Sand Dunes span a total of 16 km along the Sea of Japan but the main sightseeing route spans about half a kilometer. This distance may not seem intimidating but the actual walking is pretty tiring. The ascent to the top of the highest sand dune is quite steep. Furthermore, walking upwards on sand is quite exhausting and tricky – the moment you stop in your tracks, you find yourself moving backwards. Going downwards, as you may have imagined, is quite a fun experience because you’re just literally sliding downwards. When I first saw the sand dunes, I was really in awe of its sheer size and beauty. I wish I learned more about sand dunes during my geography classes. According to Wikitravel, there is a variety of tourist-oriented activities there: paragliding, riding the camels, sandboarding etc. I saw the camels and I sat on one camel and took photo with it (500 Yen!) but I certainly didn’t see the other activities. I guess this is not the peak tourist season yet.
I took my time exploring the sand dunes and enjoying the views of the sand dunes and the Sea of Japan. I sat at the top of the highest sand dune, felt the sea breeze on my face and admired the adjacent sand dunes. I ended the day watching a beautiful sunset. Japan has really surprised me with the different kinds of beauty that she offers. 🙂