We took a domestic flight from Haneda airport. Being Detective Conan fans, we took our time to take photos of almost every corner of Tottori Sand Dunes Conan Airport, where posters, sculptures and illustrations of all things Conan await. Imagine our excitement when Conan first came into our sight!
Just a ten minute bus ride from the main train station, we went to Tottori Castle Ruins to climb up the castle courtyards for a commanding view over Tottori City. Next to it is the Tottori Prefectural Museum exhibiting art and history relating to the prefecture.
Tottori’s breathtaking sand dunes were created over thousands of years. Here you can ride on camels, while the more adventurous may try paragliding or sandboarding. Many people took off their shoes to enjoy the soft, fine sand.
A short walk away is The Sand Museum, Japan’s only open-air museum. The exhibition theme changes each year, and sand sculptors from all over the world come here to display their works. Sadly we missed it, as they close from January to mid April to prepare for the year’s exhibition.
Specially for fans of Detective Conan, this is definitely my favourite place in Tottori. Conan has a train station, a street, and a bridge named after him! Along a 1.4 kilometre street, be overwhelmed by Conan’s statues and stone panels. Gosho Aoyama Manga Factory is a museum dedicated to Conan’s illustrator. In it, there is plenty more Conan stuff, interactive quizzes and games.
Not a fan of Conan? No worries! If we had more time, we would have loved to visit Daisen-Oki National Park, the tallest mountain in the region and on the list of Japan’s 100 famous mountains. There is the Daisenji Temple at the base, and the mountain slopes turn into brilliant shades of red and yellow during autumn. Covered by snow during winter, it is one of western Japan’s best ski slopes.
Famous for her sunsets, we took a stroll to Hakuto Beach, a beautiful coast and attracts many locals in summer. It is the setting of one of Japan’s legendary myths, The white rabbit of Inaba.
Offering the freshest seafood from the Sea of Japan, we visited Karoichi Market, which is popular among the locals. Although it pales in size compared to Tokyo’s Tsukiji, it is always crowded on weekends, offering a truly local experience. There are two big restaurants, and a few smaller ones, and one of the sushi restaurants is known for its large servings of gourmet fish.
After a hearty meal, why not head for a stroll along the beach? Just 100 metres from the market, the sand is very fine and soft. Next door is Kanikkokan, a free crab aquarium targeted towards children. Not only were there crab exhibits, but other rare sea creatures I have never seen before. There was also a “touching pool”, where visitors can feel the sea animals.
Next up was the largest lake in Tottori, Lake Koyama. There are seven islets in the pond, and the largest one is accessible via a bridge, with a park and camping ground. If we had more time, we would have opted to take a boat ride to tour the entire lake.