The White Rabbit of Inaba
Just offshore at Hakuto beach, Tottori's most famous, is a small island that is part of local folktale. The story goes that a rabbit was trapped on the island longing to return to his family on the mainland. He tricked a family of sharks into lining up so he can hop on their backs to the shore, but as he reached the last shark he sneered about having deceived them, and the shark tore off all the rabbit's fur. Some cruel god brothers came along and told the rabbit he would be cured if he bathed in the sea, but the salt stung painfully, and he was not cured. The youngest brother, Okuninushi no Mikoto, came along, felt sorry for the crying rabbit, and told him to bathe in the sea and dry off with cattails. The rabbit was cured and predicted that the god would become the ruler of the Inaba region, which came true some time later.
Reminders of this story abound in the Tottori area, and you will see the white rabbit on everything from bridges to sewer grates to flower arrangements, sometimes accompanied by a rather fat god carrying a big sack. In fact, the name of that beach, Hakuto, means "white rabbit."
Tottori City serves as industrial center of Tottori prefecture, with several big electronics factories such as Sanyo. The fishing industry here is quite lively. Tottori is also home to Tottori University and another agricultural university. These two schools are important sites for agricultural research, and attract agricultural students from other parts of Japan, as well as a small number of foreign students. Although the number of foreign residents in Tottori is quite low, its 250,000 locals are certainly friendly.
There are three daily flights from Tokyo's Haneda airport to Tottori airport with ANA. The flight takes about 75 minutes. Tel. 0120-029-222, 0857-23-3038.
From Tokyo, you can catch the Izumo night train. It leaves at 9:10 PM and arrives in Tottori at 7:56am . The cost is about ￥10,200.
A JR line connects Tottori to Okayama, about 2 hours away, where you can catch the main shinkansen line.
Heading west from Tottori are both a scenic highway and a JR line which head towards Yonago
There is an express bus which runs from Tokyo's Hamamatsu-cho to Tottori. The cost is about ￥10,200 one-way. Tel: 03-3743-0022
Another express bus runs several times daily between Osaka's Namba terminal and the central Tottori bus station. One-way fare runs around ￥6000 and the trip takes about 2 and a half hours.
Central Tottori, between the train station and Mt. Kyusho, is easily navigable on foot. For destinations in the direction of the sand dunes, there is a special bus. Just listen for the only bus with its own theme song.
Tottori Sand Dunes (鳥取砂丘 Tottori sakyū). The Tottori Sand Dunes are the most famous attraction. It is Japan's largest sand dune park, 16 kilometers from east to west. Often used by the Japanese movie industry as the set for desert scenes, the park offers camel rides, paragliding, and a cable car ride. If you arrive very early in the morning, you can see the unique patterns carved by the wind, before they get trampled by the scores of people who come to climb the biggest dune. To get there take the special sakyū bus from the central bus station. It's the one that plays the sand dunes' theme song as it goes by.
Tottori Castle Ruin Park - Built in 1545 and destroyed in a massive siege in the 19th century, only the foundation of Tottori Castle remains. Elevated in the lower reaches of Mt. Kyusho, the site offers a nice view of the city below. The castle park is the perfect place to go during cherry-blossom season.
Uradome Beach - Designated as a national park, the coast just east of the sand dunes is rugged and magnificent. Contact the Iwami-cho Tourist Association. Tel. 0857-72-3481
Shan-Shan Festival, in mid-August. More than 4,000 people participate in the parades of the "Inaba Umbrella Dance". Ornate umbrellas covered in bells and colorful strips of paper are used. Snap a photo of the over-sized one hanging year-round in the train station, as it is a symbol of this area.
San In Beach Party (email: mailto:email@example.com), . Held every year around early July, this all-weekend is rated as one of the best outdoor events in the country. The location is in a beautiful bay about 10km out of Tottori City called Kozomi (west along route 9 towards Yonago). The 2007 event gathered more than 1000 guests from all over Japan and half of those were foreigners. The event is a mixture of DJs at night, live music during the day, come-as-you-please workshops on the beach, beach game tournaments, food stalls and the famous beach bar. The event is well organized: they can organize accommodation and travel from some of the major cities. Camping facilities are also available. This event gets bigger and better every year, so plan ahead early and contact the organizers if you need specific information.
Jinpukaku - Just below the ruins of the castle lies this European-style villa which was home to the remnants of the Edo-era feudal clan, Ikeda.
Watanabe Museum - This privately-owned museum houses a wild display of samurai armor and artifacts, as well as a selection of other things such as musical instruments and ukiyo-e woodblock prints.
Nagashibina Doll Museum displays many Hina dolls, which are used in Hinamatsuri, March 3. Tel. 0858-87-3222
Inaba Manyo Historical Museum in Kokufu-cho houses many Inaba-area artifacts from the Nara and Heian eras. Tel 0857-26-1780
Warabekan (Children's Museum) A short walk west of the castle ruins is this museum of children's toys. There is a re-creation of an old school building and many interesting tin toys.
Kawahara Castle, in the far-east reaches of the city limits, has a pretty spectacular lookout view. Tel. 0858-85-0046
Walk to the beach from downtown along a wide and pleasant greenbelt. Start from the station and walk west about 5 blocks to find the river and head to the right when you find the path. The walk takes about 45 minutes.
Climb Mt. Kyusho, the hub of the city. Starting from atop the castle ruins, the climb takes around half an hour and offers a great view of the city and surrounding area, all the way out to the sand dunes. But watch out for the ghosts of those who starved at the top during the castle siege.
Ride a camel or go parasailing at Tottori Sand Dunes.
Relax at Tottori Hot Spring, not far from Tottori JR Station, or at Yoshioka Hot Spring. Pick up a brochure at the information desk in the train station.
Walking east from the station you will find to the left, the 5-story Daimaru department store, and to the right, a string of small shops lining the main street.
At the southeast corner of Sakaemachi, you will find a large two-story store in which everything sold was made locally, including pottery, paper, clothing, dolls, and food items.
Kato Kamiten, a stationary shop in the second block east of the station, has an colorful and interesting selection of locally-produced paper on its second floor.
There is another shopping district about 3 kilometers west of the train station which includes a sizeable bookstore and a DeoDeo electronics center, among other things. A small import grocer sits not far away.
West of the river near the coast is a shopping area anchored by the large Jusco store.
Tottori is most famous for its pears. You will find a large variety of cookies, cakes, and other sweets made from local pears. Have a look at the omiyage shop in the train station, at the local handcraft shop two blocks up the main street, or in the basement floor of the Daimaru department store across from the station. Tottori is also famous for fresh seafood, particularly its crab and white squid. Another local specialty is shallots, grown in huge fields out near the sand dunes and pickled for appetizers.
Source - Go up the main street from the station several blocks. Just before you come to the river, you'll find this café on the right, on the second floor. Classy atmosphere and tasty selections from an eclectic menu.
There is a reasonable kaitenzushi (conveyor-belt sushi) restaurant, as well as other restaurants inside the Shamine department store in the train station.
A number of popular chain restaurants can be found in Tottori as well, mostly in the city center. These include Wara Wara (笑笑), Doma Doma (どまどま), Shirokiya (白木屋), and others.
To find the main drinking district, walk about two blocks up the main street from the train station, take a right and go down about a block. Tottori does not have a gaijin bar, but there are plenty of izakaya and small pubs in the drinking district, which is an area about 2 blocks by 3 blocks.
Luz - right on the main street of the drinking district, across from the Lawson, this place has a nice African decor. Here you can try mamushi-shu, which is sake with a drowned viper snake inside. Also, the Israelis who sell jewelry in front of the place can sometimes be a very valuable source of information.
Goldrush - Country-western-style saloon in the backstreets of the drinking district. They are rumored to serve reasonable tacos.
DD - This spacious ground floor pub across from Goldrush is very foreigner-friendly.
Bridge Club - This dance club is located in a warehouse district west of the river and is infamously hard to find the first time, so you should take a taxi. The club doesn't always have regular events, so you should check first at Luz for flyers of any upcoming events.
Big Apple - By day it is a diner for the neighborhood's factory workers, but on weekend nights they often bring in DJs and clear the tables from the dancefloor. It is best to take a taxi.
DNA - Located in the heart of the entertainment area, DNA is THE nightclub in Tottori. They have 3 rooms (main hall, dining & a VIP room) that can hold up to 250 people. DNA serves a number of imported beers. Main events are held at the weekend, including national & internationally recognised artists, while their mid-week schedule also includes 'lower key' events such as quiz nights, dance lessons, fashion shows.... The DNA event schedule and food menu can be found on their website www.clubdna.biz The owners are an English guy and an Israeli guy and they've lived in Tottori for a decade, so they have tons of info if you're in Tottori for a visit.
Hotel New Otani, 2-153 Ima-Machi. Only a block from JR Tottori station. Rooms from ￥11,000.
Washington Hotel Tottori 102 Higashi Hongi-Machi. Tel. 857-278111
Hotel Green Morris, Rooms starting at 4500 yen per night. Very clean with onsen and sauna available to guests. Delicious Buffet style breakfast for extra 500 yen is well worth the price.
There also is a cheap business hotel just west of the train station. Rooms start at ￥4,200.
There is an internet cafe behind the train station. Go out the west exit, around to the right. The internet cafe is above the travel agency in the curved building just past the Lawson convenience store.
Several popular ski resorts, such as Wakasa, are accessible as day trips from Tottori.
Saji Astro Park is an easy evening trip from Tottori. It houses a planetarium and the largest observatory in Japan that is open to the public. Tel. 0858-89-1011
Many of Tottori prefecture's famous hot springs are easily accessible as day trips: Togo Hot Spring in Togo-cho, Shikano Hot Spring in Shikano-cho, Iwami Hot Spring, Hamamura Hot Spring in Ketaka-cho, Sekigane Hot Spring in Sekigane-cho, Hawai Hot Spring in Hawai-cho, Misasa Hot Spring in Misasa-cho, and Kaike Hot Spring in Yonago.
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