Japan’s Crazy Desert Revealed: Tottori Sand Dune Adventure ★ ONLY in JAPAN

Japan’s Crazy Desert Revealed: Tottori Sand Dune Adventure ★ ONLY in JAPAN


Tottori Sand Dune Adventure: Japan’s Crazy Desert Revealed So here I am in Tottori at the Tottori Sand Dunes or the Tottori Sakyu Now this place might just look like a big beach but it’s a lot more than that You’re image of Japan is probably of Tokyo the bullet trains buzzing by Tokyo Tower. SkyTree Lots of people. Neon signs. Restaurants everywhere. And here … There’s not even a vending machine. I mean .. Come on! It’s just a big — desert! Exactly! This is Japan’s biggest desert which is right on the coast of Tottori City on the Sea of Japan. 16 km by 2 km wide making it more than half the size of Manhattan in New York. See those dots down there? Those are tourists climbing the over 50m high sand dune. Which is exactly what I’m about to do right now. The sand dunes are Tottori’s biggest tourist draw with over 2 million people visiting annually It’s part of the Sanin Kaigen National Park. The dunes can be anywhere from 50 to 90 meters high! It’s one of the strangest sights to see in Japan. You can even ride camels! Native to — Somewhere, but not here. There’s also sand surfing, paragliding and horse carting if you don’t like wandering around the desert. The Tottori Sand Dunes are an amazing sight. From here, you can see the whole horizon and contemplate life as we know it. … or you can get up and go to the “Suna no Bijyutsukan“ or the SAND MUSEUM. It’s a world class art museum with some of the most impressive sand sculptures in the world. Each one is created by an international artist sharing a common theme. It truly is like entering another world. Sand is used from the dunes across the street and recycled every year. The art of sand sculpting started in the US over 40 years ago and its popularity has spread. This museum with the dedicated leadership of executive producer Chaen-san (茶園さん) opened in 2006. This really is incredible. The creator of all this is Chaen-san and I got a chance to interview him earlier and asked him, how is this all possible? Nature created the Tottori Sand Dunes and this man-made museum seems like the perfect compliment to it all. Chaen-san is the executive producer of the sand museum. He’s also a world renown sand sculptor and brings all the artists together to make what you see here. Now he’s creating a sculpture of Christ the Redeemer from Rio. He uses all sorts of tools to work the sand. The color and consistency of the Tottori Sand Dune Sand is perfect for this type of art. There are straws. Brushes. Spatulas. Clay loops. Even curry rice spoons! Many of the items are things most people already have in their garage or in their wallets! Is that a … A gold American Express card. It’s light, flexible and does the job. Of course Chaen-san recommends GOLD! These tools help there artist’s vision and I wanted to get to know more about Chaen-san’s vision for this museum. This place had nothing. Just fields. So with the help of city officials, we cut down the bushes, and created sculptures. 110,000 people came in just a month. So Tottori thought this might work as a tourist attraction and continued every year since. The next year, 200,000 people came. Then 300,000 and after 400,000, we needed a building for it. Every time a typhoon came it blew away our work. So this museum building was constructed. It’s a very modern and clean building where your mother won’t be angry at you for bringing sand into the house. It’s a sand paradise! The layout has been well planned. with mysteries you can uncover like — MACHU PICCHU Only visible from the upper floor. This year’s theme is South America looking at its history. Chaen-san emphasises the people. The faces are lifelike and amazingly detailed. The Golden color of the Tottori sand here is good for seeing the shadows. Even love has a place here … but those monkeys better stay in the trees! It’s a jungle down there! The Rio Summer Olympics in Brazil has had an influence as well. Samba dancers popping out of the sand, making it a festival. This looks like the head of Jesus on the Statue in Rio de Janeiro that’s so famous. But I can’t see his arms. Christ the Redeemer: The Mystery Where are the arms? It’s so big you have the stand back. No, even further! The arms can only be seen here. The illusion coming together perfectly at this spot. Ingenious … and stunning. I asked Chaen-san a little bit more about the Tottori Sand Dunes. One reason for this popularity is the key word, Ecology. It’s a big key word. Now sand sculptures are created indoors, but back then it was built on the beach. When the waves went out, we made it, and the waves came back in and it all returned to the sea. That is the basic concept so we always have that in mind. So it’s not a permanent exhibition. We have to return it to nature once a year. If we forget that basic concept, this culture will be destroyed. That’s how I feel. We have to keep that feeling close to our hearts to keep this work alive we can’t forget that nature exists. That’s probably the most important thing. Chaen-san is originally from Kagoshima but the uniqueness of the Tottori Sand Dunes attarcted him to live here to start this museum. Nowhere else can this exhibit be recreated. I was able to invite many people from around the world and I could create this situation here. The Tottori Sand Dunes and this museum is one of the highlights of my life. A very big stage in my life. The sand dunes were created 100,000 years ago from sand blowing off the sea, accumulating in this spot. It’s been shrinking because barriers to prevent tsunamis have disrupted the currents and sand flow vegetation creeping in. The city is trying to reverse it now because … it’s spectacular. Unique and a reason to travel to Tottori. Just to see a little Sahara in Japan. With loads to do and see, it’s an awesome escape to a natural and beautiful area of Japan. Devoid of all vending machines. Next time: the ONLY in JAPAN Question & Answer episode! See updates, photos and up-to-date info on INSTAGRAM and Facebook>ONLYinJAPANtv Don’t forget to subscribe 🙂

100 thoughts on “Japan’s Crazy Desert Revealed: Tottori Sand Dune Adventure ★ ONLY in JAPAN

  1. My biggest goal in life is to learn Japanese and live in Japan. These videos have served as a great motivator to work towards that, so thank you for making them!

  2. Nice episode as always John! Machu Picchu in the sand was breathtaking! So amazing to know you were in my country. Hope you enjoyed it, and got to see more than Lima and Cuzco!

  3. In many old Civil War battleground landmarks, its frowned upon to take a stone or a rock as the constant pilfering over time would really impact what remains. Do they have that issue with the Tottori sand? I'd imagine most locals are more respectful than to do that, but there's probably still a few. Perhaps they could put some souvenir samples in a vending machine 🙂 Very very awesome vid! These keeps surprising me with what's next. Thank you!

  4. When you half-awake and trying to stream youtube video "ohh crazy DESSERT"…and…yeah it DESERT!! well keep it up John!! still need to fix my notification.. it's not pop up again!!…

  5. You use the words desert and dune as if the mean the same thing, but they aren't the same. It seems to be missing the arid part of a desert.

  6. Japanese largest dune is SARUGAMORI SAKYU in AOMORI prefecture.
    But it's used for weapon test field of Self Defense Force.

  7. "Where you can see the whole horizon and contemplate life as you know it…" xD
    There are deserts mostly where there is sea or previously there used to be one. Loved this place. Looking forward for your next video. 😄

  8. いつも楽しく拝見しております。余り知られていない、日本の地方を紹介して貰えることを嬉しく思います!
    私は広島県に住んでおりますが、冬~春は牡蠣が美味しい季節ですので機会があればまたお越しになって下さい( ・ω・)_ _))ペコリン

  9. Look like a very interesting place! Thank for sharing! I am visiting this place next year in a package tour, and hope it will be as interesting as you shown us! 😉

  10. Could you please do a video at a big Japanese arcade? i'd love to see all the crazy arcade machines they have over there these days, it's unfortunately something that's kinda died out here in the US.

  11. Brasileiro eu sou
    e essas dunas são parecidas com as do maranhão em barreirinhas aqui no brasil
    thanks from brazil 🙂

  12. I doubt sand sculpting was started just 40 years.
    Who's to say somebody or a group didn't make them hundreds of years ago if not longer.

  13. Two questions:
    1. can you bring your own toboggan (sled)
    2. Does it snow in this part of Japan? I feel like sand dunes covered in snow would be the ultimate sled ride.

  14. John san no subete no video ga sugoi desu…. daisuki desu!

    (Watashiva nihongo ga mattaku wakarimasenga , okusan ga yutteru toori kaite imasu :P)

  15. i visited japan to visit my dad there he let me go there it was pretty hard to climb up lol but the view of the ocean was worth it!

  16. I think it's important to mention that this is not a true desert. Japan is much too humid and has too much moisture to have any true desert. These are sand dunes which are a natural phenomenon but it sure does look like a desert when he's walking on them!

  17. i went all the way from Tokyo to Tottori, took round trip night bus just to visit: Detective Conan's museum in Yura station, Chinese garden and this Tottori dunes. trust me this prefecture is beyond awesome

  18. Tottori sand dunes are impressive and literally nobody I tell know about it I was surprised at first too because when you think of Japan you don't think of deserts of course a vending machine would be nice

  19. It reminds me of Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes in Michigan. I did not know dunes are in Japan, and most people don't realize we have dunes around Lake Michigan!

  20. Japan= shake
    Sand dunes= whipped cream
    Sand sculpture museum= cherry on top

    The perfect Japanese sundae!

  21. John I am retired and looking to live overseas for awhile. Had been mostly considering Belize, Ecuador, Malta, Spain, or Italy. Having watched a number of your videos, I may have to rethink that. Good work, lovely production values, and always interesting topics.

  22. I actually went there last August, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, apart from crying on the way back across the sand dunes, as it was so exhausting and I'm really out of shape!
    A great video as always, although this was made a year ago!

  23. john,after stumbling across your channel a few days ago,i have been watching all of them.i just wanted to let you know how much i have enjoyed them.i was a sailor stationed at the marine corp base at iwakuni between 1967 and 1968.i got to see several places,but the hiways were very remote in those days.your videos bring back many happy memories,thank you.

  24. I want there this summer, and it was Nordic theme, when I move to Japan, I either want to live here or in Tokyo

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