Seems like a strange topic to write about twice, but despite how much I enjoyed the sand museum in Shimane, when most people think of sand in the San’in region, they’ll think of the Tottori Sand Dunes first. In fact, around the country when they think of sand dunes, Tottori will probably come up first–after all, they are Japan’s largest.

Why yes, that is a lot of sand. It’s been that way for over 100,000 years, but due to governmental intervention they’ve shrunk a bit this past century. In a new form of governmental intervention, they’re trying to reverse that to save a popular tourism spot.

Located just north of Tottori City, Tottori Prefecture’s capital, it is also very close to Hakuto Beach, where the White Hare of Inaba was said to have arrived on the mainland.

Rather than hares, however, you’re more likely to see camels.

They’re there for rides, of course, but the weather was cool so my friend and I decided to forego ride and walk. For the lazy who don’t feel like riding directly on an animal, there are also horse carriage rides to and from the best view points. For the more adventurous people, there are is a seasonal sand boarding course (I’d have been most interested in this!), hang gliding, and paragliding.

Of course, if you need a cheap thrill, you could always run down the dunes.

As for the way up, however, it’d be difficult to go quite as fast.

With all that sand, you’re going to attract more than just thrill seekers–you’re going to attract sand artists. In fact, The Sand Museum right across from the street from the dunes attracts an international team of artists every year for its “Traveling Around the World in Sand” sculpture exhibits. Each year, they focus on the history and culture of a different part of the world.

Previous exhibitions

The theme for 2014 (running until January 4, 2015) is Russia, and they had a team of 20 artists from 11 countries coming together to creature 21 Russia-themed scupltures, all but one of which are kept indoors to control the climate and lighting.

Lighting is very important with sand sculptures, as the shadows are what show the details. Hence, I didn’t take many photos–it wouldn’t be like seeing them in real life anyway, and I’d have to take blurry shots without flash in order to see anything. As you can see, the lighting source makes a big difference:

With flash

Without flash

With Tchaikovsky playing in the background, it was nice to stroll around, read the bilingual captions for each piece, and enjoy all the different angles, both high and low.

I think is my favorite face among all the sculptures.

My friend and I enjoyed a breezy day here and chilled out at a sand-dune themed cafe near JR Tottori station, but maybe next year I’ll go back to see a new exhibition and be a little more adventurous out on the sand. There’s also more singing sand to find nearby at Idegahama Beach! Not to mention a large collection of onsen… next time, Tottori! Next time!