Tottori (鳥取)  is the capital of Tottori prefecture, on the northern coast of the main Japanese island of Honshu.
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.
ANA runs three daily flights from Tokyo's Haneda Airport to Tottori. The flight takes about 75 minutes.
Tottori is on the JR San'in Main Line, which travels along the coast from Kyoto to Shimonoseki. Okayama is about 2 hours south via the JR Tsuyama Line (to Tsuyama) and the JR Imbi Line.
The Izumo night train runs directly from Tokyo. It leaves at 9:10PM and arrives in Tottori at 7:56AM. The cost is about ¥10,200.
Several express buses arrive in Tottori, including Hamamatsu-cho in Tokyo (¥10,200), Osaka's Namba Terminal (¥6000, 2 1/2 hours) or JR Bentencho Station (¥3600), Kyoto (¥3870), Okayama and Nishinomiya Kita (¥3000), Hiroshima (¥4400), and Fukuoka (¥9500).
Central Tottori, between the train station and Mt. Kyusho, is easily navigable on foot.
There are two buses in Tottori: the Loop Kirinjishi and the ¥100 Bus Kururi. For destinations in the direction of the sand dunes and Tottori Port, take the Loop Kirinjishi bus.
The ¥100 Bus has two different routes, the Red Route and the Blue Route. The buses run every 20 minutes from JR Tottori Station. (As the name suggests, all trips are only ¥100.) The red bus starts running 8:05AM (9AM on weekends and holidays) and makes its last departure at 6PM. The blue bus starts at 8:05AM (9:10AM on weekends and holidays) with a last departure at 6:10PM.
From downtown, you can walk to the beach 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.
The White Rabbit of Inaba
Just offshore at Hakuto beach 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 could hop on their backs to the shore, but as he reached the last shark, he sneered about having deceived them; 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 of the gods, Okuninushi no Mikoto, felt sorry for the crying rabbit, and told him to bathe in fresh water 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 the beach, Hakuto, means "white rabbit."
- Tottori Sand Dunes (鳥取砂丘 ''Tottori sakyū''), ☎ 085-726-7238, . You can visit the dunes at any time, day or night. Special activities typically begin at 9AM. 16km from east to west, the Tottori Sand Dunes are the most famous attraction in the city. After heavy rains, the oasis below the uma no se (the largest dune) forms into a beautiful lake. 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. If you'd prefer not to get sand in your shoes, a cable car ride (¥200 one way) leads to the Dune Observatory Center. A special sakyū bus runs from the central bus station — you'll learn to recognize the sand dunes' theme song, which the bus plays as it goes by. Free.
- Plenty of activities are centered around the dunes — see below).
- Tottori Castle Ruins, Higashi-cho, ☎ 085-722-3318. Enter anytime. Built in 1545, Tottori Castle was destroyed in a massive siege in the 19th century, and only the foundations remain. Elevated in the lower reaches of Mt. Kyusho, the site offers a nice view of the city below. The surrounding park is the perfect place to go during cherry-blossom season. Free.
- Tottori Prefectural Museum, 2-124 Higashi-cho (Located across from Jinpukaku, just below Tottori Castle Ruins), ☎ 085-726-8042, . Tu-Su 9AM-5PM. A two-story museum that displays the flora and fauna of Tottori, regional rocks and minerals, historical artifacts, festival and local cultural artifacts, and a variety of art produced in the city. Be aware that most (but not all) of the prehistoric artifacts are reproductions however, most of the other displays are real historical artifacts. Some of the museum's most unique exhibits are the squid, the largest preserved squid in the nation, and a live Giant Salamander. ¥180 for adults, free for college students and under.
- Jinpukaku Mansion, 2-121 Higashi-cho (Located across the street from the Tottori Prefectural Museum), ☎ 085-726-3595. Tu-Su. Just below the ruins of the castle lies this French-style mansion which was home to the remnants of the Edo-era feudal clan, Ikeda. ¥150.
- Kannon-in Temple, ☎ 085-724-5641, . 8:30AM-5PM. The temple was constructed in 1632 and is the 32nd temple along the Chugoku 33 Kannon Temple Pilgrimage. While the temple itself does not look particularly special, the garden inside is what makes this such a great place to visit. The temple doors are removed upon entering so that you can sit and enjoy the beautiful pond garden from inside. The garden is quite peaceful, as the only sounds you can hear are the birds in the trees. You easily forget you're in a city. Entrance is listed as ¥600, but this charge includes tea. If you don't want the tea, you can enter for ¥300.
- Watanabe Museum, ☎ 085-724-1152, . 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. ¥900 adults, ¥500 high school and college students, ¥300 younger.
- Inaba Manyo Historical Museum, 726 Machiya, Kokufu-cho (Inaba Manyo Rekishikan Iriguchi bus stop), ☎ 085-726-1780, . Tu-Su 9AM-5PM. Located in Kokufu-cho, this museum houses many Inaba-area artifacts from the Nara and Heian eras. ¥500, high school students and younger are free.
- Warabekan (Children's Museum), 3-202 Nishimachi, ☎ 085-722-7070, . 9AM-5PM, closed the 3rd Wednesday of every month. A short walk west of the castle ruins is this museum of toys. There is a re-creation of an old school building and many interesting tin toys. ¥500, high school students and younger are free.
- Nagashibina Doll Museum, 32-1 Beppu, Mochigase-cho, ☎ 085-887-3222, . Th-Tu 9AM-5PM. Displays hina dolls (for girls) throughout history, mostly from the Edo-period. Entrance is ¥300.
- Kawahara Castle, 1011 Tanihitotsugi, Kawahara-cho, ☎ 085-885-0046, . Tu-Su 9AM-5PM, to 9PM Sa April-Sept. Located in the far-east reaches of the city limits, the castle offers a pretty spectacular lookout view. It is said that Toyotomi Hideyoshi stopped here and dreamt about a peaceful, united Japan prior to uniting the nation himself. From JR Tottori Station, take the bus for Chizo and get off at Kawahara (30 minutes). The castle is a 15 minute walk from the bus stop. Free.
- Tottori Mingei Museum of Folkcrafts (鳥取民藝美術舘 tottori mingei bijutsukan), 651 Sakae-machi, ☎ 085-726-2367. Th-Tu 10AM-5PM. A rather small, two story museum. Although it is called a folkcraft museum, in actuality, this museum displays mainly pottery and glass but also has some textiles, woodwork, and bamboo work. On the second floor, along with more vases, you can watch a video showing glassmaking. The Ushinotoyaki pottery is considered to be the highlight of the museum. Just outside the museum, there is a place (the hexagonal structure) to pray for and make offerings to deceased orphans. With the stained-glass, it has an interesting Christian-Buddhist fusion feel to it. Entrance is ¥500 (free for all students and anyone over 70 years of age).
- Shikano Castle Ruins, 1517 Shikanocho Shikano, ☎ 085-784-2099. Enter anytime. Although none of the original castle remains, the inner and outer moats and stone columns can still be seen today. It's most popular during cherry blossom season with approximately 500 trees scattered throughout the castle grounds. Free.
- Aoya Kamijichi Site Museum, 4064 Aoya, Aoya-cho (Aoya Station), ☎ 085-785-0841, . Tu-Su 9AM-5PM. Aoya Kimijichi is one of Japan's most famous archaeological sites. At this site, thousands of Yayoi Period relics were excavated, including human remains — brains, in fact. The museum displays many of the artifacts and relics excavated at the site. Free.
- Ochidani Shrine, 87 Uemachi (¥100 bus to Ochidani Kouen Yamabikokan-mae), ☎ 085-722-3318. This shrine was built in 1650 by Mitsunaka Ikeda, the first lord of Tottori. The god worshipped here is the same god worshipped at Toshogu Shrine in Nikko. It's a popular place to watch fireflies at night in the late summer. Free.
- Ube Shrine, 651 Miyanoshita, Kokufu-cho (Bus to Miyanoshita Jinja-mae), ☎ 085-722-3318, . This is the first shrine to be built in the Inaba area, which consists of the entire eastern half of modern Tottori Prefecture. Praying at this shrine is believed to bestow fertility, long life, and wealth. Free.
- Genchuji Temple, 176 Shinhonji-cho, ☎ 085-722-5294. 9AM-4PM. This temple is home to the grave of Araki Mataemon, a famous swordsman who aided a man in getting vengeance. His act is known as one of Japan's top three stories of vengeance. The actual sword he used to get revenge is displayed on the temple grounds. Rakan (paintings of high ranking Buddhists) are painted on the fusuma (screen doors) inside the temple by Keitaro Takagi also make this temple an interesting stop. While traditional priest paintings are stoic, these paintings are quite candid, with rather comical appearances. ¥300.
- Saji Astro Park, 1017-1 Takayama, Saji-cho, ☎ 085-889-1011, . 9AM-9PM, to 10PM April-Sept. It houses a planetarium and the largest telescope in Japan. ¥300 adults, ¥200 junior high students and younger.
Sand Dune Activities
While walking atop and around the dunes is quite enjoyable, there are plenty of things to do for those looking for a little something more. If you plan on doing any of the sports activities, pay close attention to operating days/seasons and make your reservation. For free activities, consider bringing your own frisbee or arrive before the tide is high and collect seashells while walking along the shores of the Sea of Japan.
- Sightseeing on Camel, 2164-449 Yuyama, Fukube-cho (You'll find the camels at main entrance (East entrance) to the sand dunes, in front of the lift), ☎ 085-723-1735. 9AM-5PM. Anyone who knows anything about sand dunes knows that the best way to view them is from atop a camel. Well, in Tottori, it's no different! For those who wish to get the full experience of being in a desert, it is well worth it. (Also consider planning your trip during the warmer months, as the heat will actually enhance the experience). Although the price is a bit steep, consider the fact that entrance to the dunes is free. If it still feels expensive, you may want to consider the horse carriage. A single rider costs ¥1800, two riders costs ¥3000. If you just want your picture taken atop a camel it costs ¥500.
- Sightseeing in a Horse Carriage, (You can get on the carriage at the east entrance to the dunes near the camels). While it may not be the same as a camel ride, the carriage is still quite fun. The ride lasts approximately 15 minutes. ¥1000 adults, ¥600 children.
- Hang Gliding, 283-6 Yuyama, Fukube-cho, ☎ 085-775-2282. Courses are offered daily from April through November. This is a day course where you will learn about safety and how to operate the hang glider before trying it out for yourself. The hang gliding is offered by Kyoto Air Sports, so beginners can feel at ease that they are being taught by professionals. Because you need to be there for the entire course, you must make a reservation. Walk-ins are not accepted. It costs ¥11000.
- Paragliding, 1-1155-36 Hamasaka, ☎ 085-729-9098. Daily from late March to November. Operated by Zero Paragliding Sports, those who wish to paraglide must take the entire half-day course to learn about safety tips and how properly paraglide. The instructors are trained professionals, and with sand surfaces being safer for this type of activity, it is a great place for beginners to experience the fun of paragliding. Reservations must be made in order to participate. ¥6500 for each half-day course.
- Sandboarding, ☎ 085-723-1749. Thursdays, from April 15 to November 30. Sandboarding is considered to be an Australian invention. In Japan, there are not many places available for sandboarding, and the Tottori Sand Dunes are by far the best place to do it. Each course lasts 2 hours, and appointments must be made in order to participate. There must also be at least 10 people signed up for that day, otherwise, the course will be cancelled. If you are interested in sandboarding, when you call to make your reservation, make it for a day that has 10 people already or nearly has enough to ensure you will be able to take the course. ¥2500 per course.
With the Sea of Japan as the northern border of the city, it is not surprising that along with the sand dunes, Tottori is famous for its beaches. With such interesting history from singing sand to the white rabbit folktale, it is easy to forget that the main reason people come is for swimming and other recreational activities!
- Hakuto Beach, ☎ 085-726-0756. A historical beach famous for its associations with the folktale, the White Rabbit of Inaba. This beach was the rabbit's destination after hopping on the sharks from the island.
- Idegahama Beach, ☎ 085-785-0015. Idegahama is famous for its narisuna, "singing sand". As it is made of silica, when you walk on it, it makes a pleasant sound. The sand at Idegahama was even worshipped long ago because of the melodies that rang from the sand. To hear the sand at its best, come when it is hot. That shouldn't be too difficult, though, as it this is also the best time for swimming.
- Natsudomari Beach, ☎ 085-722-3318. This beach is famous for its female divers with their own special method of fish-cathing which has been used for over 400 years. The tradition is upheld even today! If you are lucky, you may even see them.
- Uradome Beach, ☎ 085-772-3481. Designated as a national park, the coast just east of the sand dunes is rugged and magnificent. Contact the Iwami-cho Tourist Association.
- 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.
- Relax at Tottori Hot Spring, not far from JR Tottori Station, or at Yoshioka Hot Spring. Pick up a brochure at the information desk in the train station.
- Shan-Shan Festival. 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, . 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 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.
- Kirin Lion Dance. April. A traditional lion dance held at Ube Shrine, dedicated to the shrine's patron deities.
- Tottori Sand Dune Illuminations. December. At the end of each year, the sand dunes are lit up at night, and on New Years Eve, there is a countdown to the New Year.
Walking east from the station, you will find a string of small shops lining the main street to the right. Kato Kamiten, a stationary shop in the second block east, has an colorful and interesting selection of locally-produced paper on its second floor.
- Daimaru (鳥取大丸), 2-151 Imamati, ☎ 0857-25-2111, . 10AM-7:30PM. Five story department store just east of the station. Aside from the usual women's and men's fashion, there's a food court in the basement and a rooftop family beer garden in the summer, with a tent for the rainy season.
- 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.
- 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 Daimaru. Another local specialty is shallots, grown in huge fields out near the sand dunes and pickled for appetizers.
Crab and white squid are the best of the local catch.
There is a reasonable kaitenzushi (conveyor-belt sushi) restaurant, as well as other restaurants inside the Shamine department store in JR Tottori Station. A number of popular chain restaurants can be found in in the city center, such as Wara Wara (笑笑), Doma Doma (どまどま), and Shirokiya (白木屋).
- Cafe Source, 227 Yayoi-cho, ☎ 0857-21-3457, . 12PM-12AM. 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. If you're not up for a full meal, stop in for the drinks and desserts. Lunch sets from ¥850, dinner from ¥2950.
- Karoichi (かろいち), 3-27-1 Nishi-cho, ☎ 0857-38-8866, . Most restaurants 11AM-4PM, 5-10PM. A large seafood market with a view of the coast. There are several restaurants. Wakabayashi Sushi is good and cheap. An eight piece nigiri set is ¥700. It's inside the market near the right entrance.
To find the main drinking district, which is an area about 2 blocks by 3 blocks, walk about two blocks up the main street from the train station, take a right and go down about a block. There are plenty of izakaya and small pubs.
- Big Apple, 3-24-2 Koyama-cho higashi (JR Koyama Station), ☎ 0857-28-2413. Tu-Su 6PM-2AM. 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 dance floor. It is best to take a taxi.
- DD, 5-368 Koyama-cho higashi (JR Koyama Station), ☎ 0857-38-9020. 24 hours. This spacious ground floor pub across from Goldrush is very foreigner-friendly, with free wifi.
- DNA, 753 Suehiro Onsen-cho, ☎ 0857-22-7005, . 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 owners are an English guy and an Israeli guy and they've lived in Tottori for a decade, so they have good local info.
- Goldrush, 178 Yayoi-cho (Okumura Building, 2nd floor), ☎ 0857-20-2461. M-Sa 7PM-3AM. Country-western-style saloon in the backstreets of the drinking district. They are rumored to serve reasonable tacos.
- Luz, Suehiro-onsen-cho 271-1, ☎ 0857-21-7567. Su-Th 11AM-11PM, F-Sa 11AM-1AM. 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.
Garden at Kannon-in, Tottori
- Yanagijaya Campground (柳茶屋キャンプ場). Free campsite right next to Kids' Land (こどもの国 Kodomo no kuni), west of the sand dunes. There are free showers in the Cycling Terminal building next door.
- Oasis Minshuku (オアシス), 2083 Yuyama, Fukube-cho, ☎ 0857-23-0227, . A nice hotel just five minutes from the sand dunes. Rooms ¥4000; breakfast ¥500 extra, dinner as well ¥2500.
- Ladies Inn Tottori (レディス イン 鳥取), 102-5 Eirakuonsen-cho, ☎ 0857-23-8161. As the name says, this hotel is for women only. Coin laundry and Internet available. It's a three minute walk from the north exit of JR Tottori Station. ¥4500-5300.
- Wel City Tottori (ウェルシティ 鳥取), 176 Ogi-machi, ☎ 0857-22-8100, . Pleasant business hotel with Western-style rooms, Internet access, and dinner from ¥1000. It's a two minute walk from the south exit of JR Tottori Station. Rooms from ¥4273.
- Tottori City Hotel (鳥取シティホテル), 471 Ebisu-machi, ☎ 0857-27-6211, . Basic, no-frills business hotel, with a good location in the city center. It's an eight minute walk from the north exit of JR Tottori Station. Rooms from ¥5000.
- Hotel Alpha One Tottori (ホテルアルファーワン鳥取), 759 Suehiro-onsen-cho, ☎ 0857-29-9188, . Great hospitality and rooms bigger than average, with a good buffet breakfast. It's a five minute walk from the north exit of JR Tottori Station. Rooms from ¥5100.
- Toyoko Inn (東横イン鳥取駅南口), 2-153-3 Tomiyasu, ☎ 0857-36-1045, . Offers Internet in the lobby, PCs and color printer, coin operated washing machines, and free breakfast. Women may ask for a free cosmetics set. Every room has a television, air conditioner, green tea, and refrigerator. It's just outside the south exit of JR Tottori Station. Rooms from ¥5460 single, ¥7560 double, ¥8190 twin.
- Tottori Washington Hotel Plaza (鳥取ワシントンホテルプラザ), 102 Higashi Hongi-machi, ☎ 0857-27-8111, . Good-sized rooms and a tasty buffet breakfast. Nice view from the upper floors, too. Take the north exit of JR Tottori Station and turn left. ¥6900 and up.
- Super Hotel Tottori Ekimae (スーパーホテル鳥取), 5 Ogi-machi, ☎ 0857-22-9000, . Business hotel with Internet access in the (small) rooms and a PC in the lobby. It's a two minute walk from the south entrance of JR Tottori Station. Rooms from ¥5280 single, ¥7280 double (which they call 'super').
- Hotel Monarque (ホテルモナーク鳥取), 403 Eiraku-onsen-cho, ☎ 0857-20-0101, . Impeccably clean rooms with a relaxing spa for guests. Western-style rooms from ¥7080 single, ¥10,000 double; Japanese-style rooms extr.
- Hotel New Otani (ホテルニューオータニ鳥取), 2-153 Ima-machi, ☎ 0857-23-1111, . Good business hotel with friendly, patient staff, but the meals are a bit overpriced. It's only a block from JR Tottori station. Rooms from ¥9500 single, ¥18,000 double.
- Tottori Prefectural Tourism Division, Tel. 0857-22-7070
- 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.
- Misasa - Home to the mysterious cliff temple, Mitokusan Nageiredo and a nice hot spring.
- Kurayoshi Home to a well-preserved historic district.
- Daisen A great place for hiking in the warm months and skiing in the winter.
- Wakasa A nearby town with a nice ski resort.
- Tsuyama One of the best places in the entire Chugoku region to view cherry blossoms in the spring and autumn leaves in the fall.
- 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