Tottori City 鳥取市
Tottori City, famous first for its sand dunes, is on the Japan Sea coast of Tottori Prefecture and is the prefectural capital, with a population of about 200,000.
Besides the sand dunes, Tottori City has the ruins of what was one of the most fortified castles in Japan, some picturesque Buddhist temples associated mostly with the Ikeda clan whose castle it was, and, among its several museums, a superb sand art museum near the dunes.
Tottori City is quite compact, with its main sites located quite near each other, so can easily be seen in a day.
Tottori Sand Dunes
The easily accessible and dramatic Tottori Sand Dunes (Tottori Sakyu) are the biggest dunes in Japan, and only 15-20 minutes by car or bus from Tottori Station. The dunes can be freely accessed and climbed at any time without the need for special planning or preparation, and include numerous activities, such as camel riding, and facilities, such as the Sand Museum, and a chairlift to access it. Read more about the Tottori Sand Dunes.
Tottori Castle Ruins
The Tottori Castle Ruins is the site of what was one of Japan's most heavily fortified castles, dating from the 16th century. Until the 1860s, this was a grand castle on a commanding site, but with Japan's modernization, beginning 1868, it fell to ruin, and all that is left are foundations, its still impressive walls and moat, and a restored gate. At 263m (863 feet) above sea-level, the site makes for great views across Tottori City and has an atmosphere steeped in history. Read more about Tottori Castle Ruins.
Jinpukaku Mansion is an imposing wooden two-story mansion at the foot of Tottori Castle Ruins, alongside the former castle's western wall. Jinpukaku was built by the former lords of Tottori Castle, the Ikeda family, as a gesture to the new, modern Japan, and represented the very latest at the time it was built, in 1907, including electricity. Jinpukaku Mansion's most famous feature is its grand staircase. As well as its architecture, there are historical displays in certain rooms that recall its role for several decades as the Tottori Prefectural Museum. Read more about Jinpukaku Mansion.
Tottori Prefectural Museum
Tottori Prefectural Museum is a large modern facility right across from Jinpukaku Mansion, showcasing the natural and cultural history of Tottori Prefecture. Starting with its striking architectural design, the Museum has something for everyone, covering almost every aspect of life in Tottori prefecture throughout the ages with spacious, well-designed exhibits and with English signage. Read more about Tottori Prefectural Museum
Kannon-in Temple is an old Buddhist establishment in Tottori City founded at the behest of the Ikeda clan, the lords of Tottori Castle. Kannon-in Temple is best known for its more than 400 year old garden at the rear, which requires a fee to view. However, the temple itself and the grounds that face it are free to enter and view, and also make for some beautiful scenes. The temple's most memorable architectural feature is its Ryugujo-mon, or Dragon Palace Gate, but even the initial approach up the temple driveway is picturesque, marked by an old stone plinth and lined with cherry trees that are unforgettable in spring.
Kotokuji Temple is a short walk from Kannon-in Temple, and is marked by exquisitely cultivated and scrupulously maintained gardens, a mix of formalism and naturalism. Kotokuji Temple is also significant for its sumo wrestling connections, being the resting place of one of a legendary (and literal) giant of a sumo wrestler from the 1600s, and with over 100 other less well-known sumo wrestlers of old buried here too. Kotokuji is completely free to enter and enjoy. Read more about Kotokuji Temple.
Manidera Temple is an important mountain temple located on Mount Mani, north of Tottori city and not far from the Tottori Sand Dunes. Reached via hundreds of steps up a narrow valley, Manidera includes a statue of Kannon set in a large basin of water from the mountain spring with a reputation for healing. Unlike many other mountain temples, Manidera was never off-limits to women. Read more about Manidera Temple.
Hakuto Shrine (Hakuto Jinja) near the sea at Hakuto Beach is connected to two Japanese myths: the story of the White Rabbit of Inaba and the Wani and the Yasogami brothers and the White Rabbit. Hakuto Shrine attracts supplicants looking for a marriage partner.
Ochidani Park is a narrow valley near the center of Tottori city that is home to some traditional Japanese gardens, an interesting history museum, an historical shrine, and a nature preserve. Located south of the castle area and northeast of the main train station, the park is not so well known but has quite a bit to enjoy.
Though located a little out of the central downtown area of Tottori city, Ube Shrine is very popular having been the Ichinomiya, the highest ranked shrine in the province in historical times. Ube Shrine is famous for many benefits including longevity, the protection of children, and the attainment of prosperity.
Tourist Information Center
The Tottori City International Tourist Support Center is 70 meters east of the North Exit of Tottori Station. As well as providing information, the Center can also arrange an affordable taxi service for tourists, costing 1,000 yen per person for a party of up to four for up to three hours. English-language guided tours can also be booked, but at least two weeks in advance. See the Tottori City International Tourist Support Center website for details.
Hours: 8:30am-5:30pm every day.
111-1 Higashihonji-cho, Tottori City, 680-0835
Tottori offers a range of accommodation options for all budgets, many of them featuring old-style hospitality, but often with modern, up-to-date facilities that incorporate a traditional touch. The following are three recommended places to stay in Tottori.Kansuitei Kozeniya is a traditional Japanese ryokan inn near Tottori Station that offers both futons and beds in spacious, tranquil Japanese-style rooms. Being an inn, food is an integral part of the hospitality, and Kansuitei Kozeniya has a reputation for fine Japanese cuisine. Friendly, attentive service, and includes all the mod cons you'd enjoy in a regular hotel.
Drop Inn Tottori is a clean, modern capsule hotel in the center of the city, ideally located for sightseeing and travel. Comfortable beds with two lockers per guest, spotlessly clean shared bathroom/toilet facilities, a convenient dining room serving good food and a communal lounge with TV. Air-conditioned. Washing machines available. Free Wi-Fi and parking.
Base 8823 is genuine Japanese homestead budget accommodation some way out of Tottori City, but ideal for those wanting a true countryside experience at the most reasonable rates. Surrounded by ricefields, this classic old building has been upgraded for accommodation purposes, has an outdoor terrace for relaxed socializing, the latest bathroom facilities, and an atmosphere that really makes you feel at home. Free Wi-Fi.
Whether riding the shinkansen from east Japan (Tokyo) or from west Japan (Fukuoka, Hiroshima), all shinkansens stop at Shin-Osaka. From Shin-Osaka Station the Limited Express Super Hakuto train gets you to Tottori in two and a half hours. Japan Rail Pass holders must pay a small surcharge to ride it.
ANA has five flights a day from Haneda Airport to Tottori Airport (nicknamed "Tottori Sand Dunes Conan Airport"), taking about 1 hr 15 min.
Sugizaki Highway Bus operates a night bus service from Tokyo Station (Kajibashi Parking Lot, South Yaesu Exit) to Tottori (across the road from Tottori Central Post Office) that takes about 12 hours and costs about 6,000 yen one-way.
Three bus companies, Keikyu Highway Bus, Nihon Kotsu and Marunouchi Jidosha, operate a night bus service from Shinagawa, Tokyo, (Shinagawa Bus Terminal, outside Shinagawa Station) to Tottori Station that takes about 9 hr 30 min and costs about 10,000 yen one-way.
Although Tottori is compact, a rental car is recommended if you want to see the sights in and around the city.