A desert oasis awaits in Tottori-shi

By Benny Shouga 04/14/2016


A sandboarder enjoys one of the many activities available to visitors

The Tottori Sand Dunes are located near the capital city of Tottori in Tottori Prefecture. Formed over 100,000 years ago, they are the only large system of dunes in all Japan. Film buffs may recognize them as a featured location in Akira Kurosawa’s “The Hidden Fortress”—the direct inspiration for the desert planet Tatooine in George Lucas’s “Star Wars.” Standing 90 meters above the Sea of Japan at their highest point, the dunes offer thrill seekers the chance to paraglide from their sandy tops, soaring on the strong prevailing winds. For those seeking a more grounded ride, donkeys and camels are available for a fee to carry visitors along the windblown ridges, high above the seascape. The majority of visitors simply hike, as the sand temperature is generally comfortable for walking before midday. Locals recommend seeing the dunes in early morning, as the wind ripples in the sand that form overnight remain largely undisturbed by visitors’ footprints. Among the green mountains and rice fields nationwide, the Tottori Sand Dunes stand out as a unique location unlike any other in Japan.


The rippled dunes at sunrise await the coming day

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