Top 7 Tourist Spots in Tottori, from the Tottori Sand Dunes to an Anime Mecca and Beyond
Tottori is not only home to the largest sand dunes in Japan, it is also full of a number of other interesting sites bursting with natural beauty and traditional cultural heritage, as well an area beloved by anime fans the world over. These are the 7 best places to visit when travelling in Tottori.
1. The Tottori Sand Dunes
The Tottori Sand Dunes have become so renowned that they are synonymous with the prefecture itself. Stretching 16km from east to west along the Japan Sea coast and 2.4km from north to south, the central area has been designated a natural monument of Japan. From the steep slopes and peaks of the "Horse's back", a natural topography consisting of receding peaks caving in to form circular arches, and the beautiful effects created by the wind blowing across the sand, there is so much to see, as is expected from the largest sand dunes anywhere in Japan.
However, there is much more to experience here than just the natural beauty. As well as "fat bikes" that allow you to bike across the sand and "sand boards" (something like snowboards), paragliding across the sand dunes is popular as it leverages the natural sparseness of the landscape, meaning that even first-time paragliders can ride free from worries about potential hazards. Entry is free.
2. The Ame no Manai Springs
The Ame no Manai springs perfectly encapsulate the beauty of the San-in region and have been recognized by the Ministry for the Environment as one of Japan's Top 100 Bodies of Water. A pathway has been installed right up to the source of the springs, meaning you can let the luscious greenery and sounds of the pristine flowing water wash over and soothe you as you make your way to the source. There you will find a beautiful pound inhabited by rainbow trout. The water is astonishingly clear, ensuring you will be able to make out the seaweed and moss growing in the bed of the pond. Just before reaching the pond, it is also worth checking out the water mill, where the gentle sounds of its still-turning water wheel and moss-covered thatched roof invite you to step into a scene from a long bygone Japanese mountain village.
You are also able to bring some spring water home with you, which you can draw by yourself in the parking lot located a short distance away from the source.
3. Hakuto Shrine
Hakuto Shrine (literally the "white rabbit shrine") is located atop a small hill that faces out onto the beautiful Hakuto Beach. A shrine with a distinct heritage, its name is found in Japan's oldest known book, the Kojiki, as the site of the ancient myth "The Hare of Inaba". According to legends, this shrine aids in the healing of skin diseases and scars and, according to "The Hare of Inaba", the eponymous white rabbit acted as a foreteller of the love between Okuninushi, the Shinto deity of magic, and Princess Yakami. It is for this reason that the deity resting here is also known as a love deity and this area is recognized as the site of the Japan's first love story, making it a blessed site for love-struck couples. At the shrine, visitors can purchase their fortune as told by the white rabbit, charms to provide luck in love, and various other adorable items. Among them, the Goshuincho (a book used to gather seals at various temples and shrines throughout Japan) found here is particularly popular, given that it is adorned with the design of two white rabbits.
Nearby you will find Mitarashi Ike (a purification pond in which the white rabbit is said to have bathed) and the island Okinoshima, which will draw visitors' minds back to the tale from which the shrine gets its name.
4. The Nageire Hall at Sanbutsuji Temple
The Nageire Hall was built into the hollowed-out cavity in a stone wall. It has been registered as a National Treasure and lies on the grounds of a compound of the Tendai sect of Buddhism located almost exactly in the center of Tottori Prefecture. It acts as the inner sanctuary of Sanbutsuji Temple, where the temple founder is enshrined. How this hall was constructed remains a mystery to this day, lying as it does on a steep cliff-edge with rocks jutting out overhead. However, according to a legend, En no Ozuno (founder of the Shugendo sect of combined Buddhist and Shinto beliefs) shrank the hall which had been built on the ground so that it may fit into the palm of his hand, throwing it into the cavern in the cliff. "Nageire" in Japanese refers to the act of throwing.
The path from Sanbutsuji Temple to the hall is takes you on a rugged mountain path. At one point it will be necessary to hold on to chains as you proceed. If you want to pray nearby the hall, be sure to bring hiking shoes. For those who do not wish to make the ascent, you can get a great view of the hall from Nageiredo Yohaijo (a prayer hall) at the foot of the mountain.
Entrance fee: Adults - 800 JPY, Children (elementary and junior-high school students) - 400 JPY
5. The Uradome Coast
The Uradome coast extends for approximately 15km at the most northeast region of Tottori Prefecture. This is an area of staggering beauty with lush green pines, white sandy beaches, and pristinely clear water, drawing a stark contrast with the rugged cliff edges, hollows, and caves carved out by the ferocious waves from the Japan Sea and winter snowstorms. You can enjoy the scenery from the land via the specially constructed walkway along the shoreline, or you can ride a sightseeing boat to view the hollows and caves while enjoying the salty sea breeze. One sight not to be missed is Sengan-matsushima, a site which is synonymous with the Uradome coastline. It consists of a large rock atop which a single pine tree stands above an entirely hollowed out space below that appears as like a tunnel through the entire structure.
6. The Shirakabe Dozogun District
The Shirakabe Dozugun is a collection of traditional buildings that line the banks of the Tama River in the city of Kurayoshi. Primarily composed of buildings dating from the Edo (1603-1867) and Meiji (1868-1912) periods, those on the upper part of the river are plastered in white, while those further down feature burned cedar branches, with the retro-style red roof tiles found in this area a particularly unique feature. In the past, these buildings housed sake and soy sauce shops, but they have now been transformed into souvenir shops, cafes, and galleries, meaning that you can enjoy a spot of shopping or a bite to eat while taking in the special atmosphere of the old town. Make sure to take a look at the back of the buildings as well where you will see a slightly warped stone bridge extending from each individual building across a small stream, giving rise to a unique and beautiful scenery. If you make use of the option to rent a traditional kimono, you are sure to enjoy your time even more.
7. Conan Town
The town of Hokuei in Touhaku County is the birthplace of the famous manga artist Gosho Aoyama, creator of the popular anime "Detective Conan". The town features statues and monuments of characters featured in the series and numerous installations of famous scenes line the streets. It is known as the only place in Japan where you have the chance to meet Conan, lending it the name "Conan Town".
Your gateway to the town, JR Yura Station, is known as "Conan Station" with the station itself, the lobby, and even the trains themselves filled with nods to the series. "Conan Street", which extends out from the station, features the Gosho Aoyama Manga Factory, "Conan's House Beika Shopping Street", and the Conan Bridge, among other delights, ensuring that any visiting fan will surely get their fill as they journey into the world of Conan.
Gosho Aoyama Manga Factory
This museum provides a gateway into the world of Gosho Aoyama. Filled to the brim with Aoyama's treasured possessions, replicas of his original drawings, and other precious documents, fans won't want to miss this on their trip to Tottori. Of special interest will no doubt be the room set up to replicate the studio in which Aoyama creates his manga. Everything is so faithfully replicated, even down to its slightly untidy state, that a visitor may feel as though he had been working in this room right up until the moment they had entered. There is also an area where you can get hands on with some of the items from the "Detective Conan" series such as the "Voice Changing Bowtie" and the "Turbo Engine Skateboard".
Moreover, at the adjoining gift shop you can purchase Conan themed goods exclusive to Tottori Prefecture.
Entrance Free: Adults - 700 JPY, High school and junior-high school students - 500 JPY, Elementary School Students - 300 JPY
The 1.4km street leading from "Conan Station" to the Michi-no-Eki Daiei rest stop has been dubbed "Conan Street" and is dotted with objects from the series and stone monuments emblazoned with scenes from the manga. Manhole covers, slabs of pavements and even signposts feature Conan, so try to spot his many different expressions as you stroll from one end of the street to other. The name of the bridge lying at the halfway point between both ends of the street was changed to "Conan Bridge" when it was rebuilt and features lamps and railings honoring the series.
This area also allows you to take in the scenery surrounding the Yura River, which is recommended to enjoy with a leisurely ride on a rented bicycle at a cost of 200 JPY for 2 hours.
The "Conan's House Beika Shopping Street" and Café Poirot
First opened in March 2017, "Conan's House Beika Shopping Street" is located in a large square situated directly halfway between "Conan Station" and the Gosho Aoyama Manga Factory. When you arrive, you will want to push the button on the interphone on the house with name "Kudo" on it, wherein you will be greeted by a character from the series.
In the same area you will find Café Poirot, based on the coffee shop of the same name that appears in the anime. Here you can enjoy a homemade curry from a menu with items linked to the series. The mugs with Conan on them used in the café are available to buy exclusively from the Conan Department Store located in the shopping street.
Some of the sites introduced here may be a little bit off of the beaten track, but they are certainly not to be missed. Make sure to get the very best out of your stay in Tottori should you make the trip.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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