Packed for yet another trip to Tottori — my second for the year — I boarded my 6:50 a.m. flight from Haneda Airport, buckled my seatbelt and browsed through the brochures I had gathered on my first trip there, all carefully stored in a white tote bag. Tottori, “almost the center of Japan,” the bag says, and I smile remembering the conversation I had with a friend and a fellow traveler to Tottori.
“Almost the center of Japan — is that a claim to fame?” she said, smiling, and I nodding.
We landed, at Tottori Sand Dunes Conan Airport, “home” to Detective Conan, the beloved Japanese character from the famous comic series, on an early autumn morning just when the leaves in Tottori city were about to turn yellow-reddish. The air was crisp and fresh (felt even more so coming from Tokyo), the streets pleasantly empty, the people smiling and kind. It felt great to be back to Tottori, a prefecture I had visited for the first time in February this year when it was covered in snow and the temperatures were below zero.
This time, I was here to enjoy Tottori in a different way from my winter experience — these three days were all about embracing nature, embarking upon adventurous activities, but still taking it slow away from my busy life in the capital.
After the trip, I boarded my plane back to Tokyo with no omiyage to take back home. Instead, I had captured the following 20 photos as souvenirs, a proof of the many ways this small prefecture can surprise its travelers over and over again, as a memory of my wonderful experience there, and as a keepsake reminding me why I have completely, head-over-heels fallen in love with this place.
So here they are, along with the stories behind them. If you relate or are at least slightly curious, book your trip and see for yourself — Tottori is just an hour and 10 minutes away from Tokyo. Yes, almost in the center of Japan.
Down the Tottori Sand Dunes 1. Shadows in the dunes
As soon as you reach the sand dunes, Tottori’s most famous tourist attraction and the largest sand dunes in Japan that are accessible to the public, you are taken aback at how vast they appear to the eye. Spanning roughly 16 kilometers off coast along of the Sea of Japan, the dunes are up to two kilometers wide and 50 meters high. Just standing there makes you — and all your problems — feel so small against the backdrop of nature’s power.
2. Up in the sky …. And back to walking