Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Surreal sand sights in Tottori, with crossing camels as a bonus! (Photo-essay)

Ever since I read about Tottori in The Sun in My Eyes: Two-Wheeling East, cyclist-writer-cook Josie Dew's follow-up to the very enjoyable A Ride in the Neon Sun: A Gaijin in Japan, I've wanted to go to that unusually sandy part of Japan.  And should you think it: no, it wasn't (just) because its name gets one thinking of Totoro!  Rather, the thought of seeing -- and walking on and up -- the sand dunes there sounded really appealing to me, and all the more so when doing so in a seemingly unlikely place!

At some 16 kilometers in length, Tottori's sand dunes are the largest in Japan, and part of the Sanin Kaigan National Park.  The writer of the Totorri section of the 3rd edition of the Rough Guide to Japan hadn't been too impressed by them though and dismissed them as "not worth going out of your way to see" but I'd beg to differ and say that, coupled with a visit to The Sand Museum nearby (and an incredibly good value 2,000 Yen uni and ikura-don lunch at an eatery located in between the two attractions), my day trip there from Matsue made for one of the highlights of my recent Japan vacation!

 Can you believe that this Coronation of Charlemagne piece 
created by Chinese sculptor Zhang Yan is made of sand? :O

 And that it's just one of a number of large works of art created
by an international team of sand sculptors on display at the museum?!

 Prone to collapse and temporal, I think their non-permanent nature
endears these amazing sand sculptures all the more to a people
whose culture celebrates such as the flowering cherry blossoms

Puppet Ponyo poses in front of a backdrop of sand sculptures
of German castles and court scenery -- and yes, the current exhibition's

Now for the natural sand wonder -- and what it 
lacks in finesse it makes up in size!

Some people try -- and fail? -- to go up 
the steepest part of the sand dunes

 I, meanwhile, opted to head first to one of the sections
of the sand dunes where wind ripples can be viewed

One last surreal sight as I was leaving Tottori --
camels crossing the road at the end of their work day! ;b


Bill said...


This looks like a great day excursion, an expansive coastal setting where one may unwind after busy touring...The Sand Museum looks like a fascinating visualization of historical sights...Reading some online facts about Tottori, its seems the author of "Woman in the Dunes", Kobe Abe, came here for inspiration. I haven't read this book, but I recall seeing the film version of "Woman in the Dunes."

Of course, Puppet Ponyo is right where she belongs, in the foreground, introducing the scene. Looking at the background display, I wonder if this worldly traveler could be recalling her travels in Germany?


YTSL said...

Hi Bill --

It was indeed a great day excursion! I went to the Sand Museum first because they day before, it had rained in Tottori and I thought it'd be good to give the sand at the dunes more time to dry. After checking out its incredible exhibits, I wondered if the sand dunes would be anti-climactic but they impressed in their own way too.

And I'm not sure re Puppet Ponyo but I definitely did get to recalling my travels in Germany while checking out the museum's Germany-themed displays. :)