Tottori (鳥取) is the most popular city in northern Chugoku, best known for its sand dunes (the largest in Japan) and associated sand museum.
Budget travel tips
- Pick up a Look Kirinjishi Bus pass from the train station Tourist Information Center, which takes visitors to all the main tourist spots. Available on weekends, national holidays and July 20th – August 31st, one-day passes are 600 yen, which is the same as two tickets. There are regular buses on other days.
Things to do
Sand Dunes (FREE)
Bring your sandals and chill out, or take them off and go for a run down the giant sand dunes. Great fun for all the family, and an awesome place to take some very memorable holiday pics.
Access: Tottori Sakyu (Tottori Sand Dunes) bus stop (20 mins, 370 yen with regular bus).
Sand Museum (砂之美術館)
Maybe the most impressive museum in Japan? Every year the Sand Museum has a new theme, and shows off some huge and intricately sculptured sand statues, cities and anything else you can imagine. Kids can make their own outside in the sand playground.
Open: 9am to 6pm
Price: 600 yen
Access: Short, signposted walk from Sand Dunes
Tanegaike Lake Trail
A very tranquil walk around an almost forgotten lake, right besides the sand dunes. We saw no other tourists here, which was a nice break from the busy museum.
Time required: 1 hour
Access: Walk 10 minutes south from the museum towards Kodomo No Kuni. Just before the tunnel, you will see the sign for the trail on the left. Follow it all the way around the lake.
Castle Ruins (FREE)
The always open castle ruins are worth seeing if you have some free time after seeing the above main tourist spots. While the actual castle has been destroyed, the ruins give an impressive view over the city a. The area is also great for viewing cherry blossoms.
Access: Tottori-jo ato (Tottori Castle Ruins) bus stop
Get a stunning view over the mountainous region from this easy and cheap to access mountain. Particularly stunning with the autumn colours, but amazing almost any time of the year.
How to get there
From Matsue, take a Limited Express train (90 minutes)
Without a rail pass
Take a bus with Willer Bus or JR Bus from any major city in Japan.
From Matsue, you can also take JR San-in Line to Tottori (2 hours, 2270 yen).
Recommended hostels and cheap hotels
Y Pub & Hostel Tottori
Cosy hostel with a cool bar downstairs. Dorm rooms were clean and quiet. Check prices at Booking.com.
Compare more at Booking.com
Free Volunteer Tours
Torrori City Tourist Guide Service
Provides 3 different tours from near the station, showing off the natural, historical and cultural sites in the city. 2 weeks notice required.