10 Best Things to Do in Tottori

Tottori Travel Guide: What to Do in Tottori Now

In Tottori Prefecture the unexpected becomes unforgettable. Unlike its bustling urban counterparts, Tottori offers a serene retreat into nature’s embrace. It’s a place where sand dunes meet the sea, where pear orchards bloom in abundance, and where manga characters spring to life.

This is the home of the largest sand dune system in Japan and the birthplace of Shigeru Mizuki, the renowned manga artist who extensively documented mystical creatures from Japanese folklore. As you delve into the best things to do in Tottori, you’ll find yourself immersed in a world that beautifully marries tradition with whimsy, creating an experience that’s like no other.

With this Chugoku Region Bucket List, let’s also check out the surrounding tourist attractions: Best Things to Do in Chugoku

1. Explore Tottori Sand Dunes, A Desert Oasis in Japan

The Tottori Sand Dunes (鳥取砂丘) is a geographical marvel located in the San’in Kaigan National Park that will make you question if you’re still in Japan. Stretching over 16 kilometers along the coast, these dunes are the largest in the country and offer a unique, desert-like landscape that contrasts beautifully with the surrounding sea and greenery. The dunes are a result of sediment deposits carried over thousands of years by the Sendai River into the Sea of Japan.

Whether you choose to explore on foot, by camel, or even paraglide from above, the dunes provide a captivating experience. For a truly unforgettable sight, visit at sunrise or sunset when the dunes are bathed in a golden hue. The nearby Sand Dune Geopark Center offers interactive exhibits about the formation and ecology of the dunes, making it a great stop for those keen on learning more about this natural wonder.

2. Do a World Tour in Grainy Detail at The Sand Museum

The Sand Museum in Tottori
© 2018 Tottori City

Just a stone’s throw from the Tottori Sand Dunes, you’ll find The Sand Museum (砂の美術館), the only one of its kind in Japan. Here, international artists showcase their incredible talent through intricate sand sculptures, each year following a different theme. Recreations of world-famous landmarks, depictions of historical events, and every single piece in the exhibition symbolizes the transient beauty of sand art.

The museum was established in 2006 by globally renowned sand sculptor Katsuhiko Chaen and has since hosted artists from around the world. It’s a world tour without leaving Tottori! The museum also offers workshops where you can try your hand at sand sculpting, a fun experience for both kids and adults.

3. A Relaxed Stroll Around Tottori Castle Ruins and Hisamatsu Park

Tottori Castle Ruins and Hisamatsu ParkThe Tottori Castle Ruins (鳥取城跡) offer a glimpse into Japan’s feudal past, with stone walls and moats whispering tales of samurai and sieges. The castle, built in the 16th century, was once a formidable fortress and an important political center. Today, it stands as a symbol of Tottori’s rich history. Come spring, Hisamatsu Park (久松公園), located within the castle grounds, transforms into a spectacle of pink as cherry blossoms bloom in abundance.

The park is considered one of the top cherry blossom viewing spots in Tottori. The combination of historical architecture and natural beauty creates a serene atmosphere, perfect for a leisurely stroll. Don’t forget your camera – the cherry blossoms against the backdrop of castle ruins make for a picture-perfect moment.

4. Discover the Peak of the San’in Region at Mt. Daisen

Mt. Daisen (大山), the highest peak in the region, is a hiker’s paradise. Standing at 1,729 meters, it’s often referred to as the “Mt. Fuji of the West” due to its similar conical shape. With trails ranging from beginner to advanced, everyone can enjoy the mountain’s natural beauty. As you ascend, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, from the Sea of Japan to the expansive plains.

In winter, Mt. Daisen transforms into a popular ski resort, offering thrilling slopes for snow enthusiasts. The mountain is also home to a rich variety of flora and fauna, making it a great spot for nature lovers. The easiest way to access it is by bus from Yonago Station. No matter the season, Mt. Daisen promises an adventure.

5. Embark on a Spiritual Journey Amidst Nature at Daisenji Temple

Daisenji TempleLocated on the slopes of Mt. Daisen, Daisenji Temple (大山寺) is a place of tranquility and spiritual reflection. Established over 1,300 years ago, this ancient Buddhist temple is surrounded by towering cedar trees, adding to its serene ambiance. The temple is a popular destination for religious pilgrimages, but also for those seeking peace away from the hustle and bustle.

As you explore the temple grounds, you’ll find yourself immersed in a sense of calm, making Daisenji Temple a must-visit on your Tottori journey. The temple also hosts various festivals throughout the year, including the Daisen Natsuyama Summer Festival, which features a procession of monks carrying sacred palanquins through the mountain trails. 

6. Learn About a Tale of Rabbits and Gods at Hakuto Shrine

white rabbit at Hakuto ShrineHakuto Shrine (白兎神社), located near the Tottori Sand Dunes, is steeped in mythology and charm. According to legend, a white rabbit tricked sharks into helping it cross the sea to reach the mainland, only to end up seriously wounded at the destination. The rabbit was found and healed by the deity Okuninushi and in exchange, it allowed the deity to marry the most beautiful princess in the mainland.

And so, the white rabbit’s tale is immortalized in the shrine, making it a popular spot for visitors. The shrine is also dedicated to said deity Okuninushi, one of the most important deities from Japanese mythology and one often associated to love and good matches, making it a favorite among couples and those seeking luck in love.

Every year, the shrine hosts the Hakuto Festival, where the rabbit’s tale is reenacted in a lively performance. Don’t forget to check out the statue of the white rabbit near the shrine’s entrance, a perfect spot for a memorable photo.

7. Bask in the Breathtaking Views of Hakuto Beach

Hakuto Beach (白兎海岸), named after the legendary white rabbit, is a pristine stretch of white sand and clear waters. It’s the perfect place to relax after exploring the nearby Tottori Sand Dunes and Hakuto Shrine. The beach offers stunning views of the Sea of Japan and is a popular spot for swimming and sunbathing during the summer months.

The contrast of the white sand against the azure sea creates a picturesque landscape that’s truly Instagram-worthy. As the day ends, stick around to witness a breathtaking sunset, a sight that will surely be one of the highlights of your Tottori trip.

8. Discover Nature’s Sculpture Garden at Uradome Coast 

Uradome CoastThe Uradome Coast (浦富海岸) is a scenic stretch along the Sea of Japan, known for its rugged cliffs, unique rock formations, and tranquil beaches. Also part of the San’in Kaigan National Park, the coast showcases the raw beauty of nature’s artistry.

You can explore the area by walking along the coastal trails, or for a more adventurous experience, take a sightseeing boat tour to see the impressive rock formations up close. The coast is also home to a variety of marine life, making it a great spot for snorkeling. For nature lovers, photography enthusiasts, adventure seekers, or anything in between, the Uradome Coast is an unmissable spot.

9. Soak in the Healing Waters of Tottori at an Onsen

Misasa Onsen and Kaike OnsenTottori is blessed with several onsen (hot springs) that offer a relaxing retreat. Misasa Onsen (三朝温泉), known for its radium-rich waters, is believed to have healing properties. A soak in these waters is said to boost the body’s immunity and promote overall health.

On the other hand, Kaike Onsen (皆生温泉), is a saltwater hot spring located near the Sea of Japan, offering stunning sea views as you soak in the hot spring waters. Many ryokans (traditional Japanese inns) in the area offer private onsen baths, allowing you to enjoy this rejuvenating experience in the comfort of your own room.

A visit to Tottori wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the therapeutic benefits of an onsen soak!

10. Have a Taste of Tottori with Regional Food

Tottori’s culinary scene is as diverse as its landscapes. The region is particularly famous for Matsuba Crab (松葉ガニ), a winter delicacy that’s considered one of the best types of crab in Japan. The crab is enjoyed in various ways – boiled, grilled, or even raw as sashimi.

Apart from seafood, Tottori is also known for its pear orchards. The 20th Century Pear (二十世紀梨), a variety native to the region, is incredibly sweet and juicy, making it a must-try. Other local specialties include Tottori Wagyu (鳥取和牛), one of Japan’s top-quality beef, and Daisen Chicken (大山鶏), known for its tender and flavorful meat. 

Tottori Prefecture is a treasure trove of natural beauty, historical charm, and culinary delights. It’s a place where tradition and nature coexist, offering a unique travel experience that’s far from the usual tourist trail.

Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or a taste of authentic Japanese culture, Tottori has something to offer. So, pack your bags and set off on a journey to discover the hidden gem of Japan’s San’in Coast. In Tottori, every moment is a story waiting to be told.

▽Check out the attractions you should experience across Japan with this Japan Bucket List!▽

▽Check more things to do in other prefectures in Chugoku Region below!▽

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▶︎10 Best Things to Do in Hiroshima

▶︎10 Best Things to Do in Yamaguchi

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Written by

Photographer, journalist, and avid urban cyclist, making sense of Japan since 2017. I was born in Caracas and lived for 14 years in Barcelona before moving to Tokyo. Currently working towards my goal of visiting every prefecture in Japan, I hope to share with readers the everlasting joy of discovery and the neverending urge to keep exploring.