Continuing from 7D6N OKAYAMA AND TOTTORI TRIP PART I
From Okayama, it is about an hour drive to Tottori Prefecture. Tottori has the smallest population of all the prefectures in Japan, but it also boasts one of Japan’s largest sand dunes, the Tottori Sand Dunes, that it is most well known for. However, there’s so much more that this prefecture has to offer.
From Tokyo, flying is the most convenient option to get to Tottori. You can reach Tottori Sand Dunes Conan Airport in about one hour and ten minutes from Haneda.
If you’re starting from Osaka, Hiroshima, or Fukuoka, you can get to Tottori Station in about two and a half to four and a half hours by shinkansen or limited express trains.
Tottori Prefecture is also the home of the author of Detective Conan: Gosho Aoyama. You’ll see characters from the manga series all around the prefecture.
Manga artist Mr. Gosho Aoyama, the author of “Detective Conan”, was born in Tottori prefecture. Hokuei, a town near Kurayoshi and his hometown, is now called the “Town Where You Can Meet Detective Conan”.
Gosho Aoyama Manga Factory is located about 20-minute walk from JR Yura Station (Conan Station). Here, there are various fun experiences for you to enjoy the world of “Detective Conan.”
Here, visitors are able to see the process of how “Detective Conan” was created as well as original drafts from the series at Gosho Aoyama Manga Factory.
A souvenir shop is also located next to the Gosho Aoyama Manga Factory. You can even get a free postcard from staff and drop it via the mailbox that is located within the shop itself. You will find Conan’s House Beika Shopping Street when you walk about ten minutes from the Gosho Aoyama Manga Factory in the direction of JR Yura Station. There are so many Conan themed shops there.
Map: Gosho Aoyama Manga Factory
Hokuei Town is also famous for watermelon!
A Conan Train decorated with “Detective Conan” characters runs at the entrance to Hokueicho, JR Yura Station (Conan Station).
Objects and artworks modeled after the characters stand at many places throughout the town, making it almost feel as if you’ve strayed off into the world of the series.
JR Yura Station is ten minutes by train from JR Kurayoshi Station and can be accessed in approximately one hour from both JR Tottori Station and JR Yonago Station. Map here.
At Kurayoshi White Wall Warehouses, white-walled storehouses dating back to the Edo period are neatly laid out along canal-lined streets, all set against a deep green mountainous backdrop. This is the perfect place to get that totally instagrammable shot too!
Temples, small museums, small shops and restaurants are also dotted throughout so you’ll have plenty to keep yourself occupied. We had lunch at Seisuian, a restaurant housed in an early Taisho-era townhouse, popular for its mochi-based eats. This restaurant is well known for its mochi shabu shabu, a special type of Japanese fondue with thinly sliced rice cakes in a bonito broth. The rice cakes include a variety of flavors, such as sesame, yuzu citron, matcha, blueberry, sakura .
Map: Seisuian 清水庵
Map: Kurayoshi White Wall Warehouses
Located in Nanbu Town, Saihaku County, Tottori Prefecture, Tottori Flower Gallery (Hanakairo) is one of the largest flower parks in Japan.
The park’s spacious grounds, commanding a view of Mt. Daisen, are host to the Flower Dome, a 50 meter in diameter, 21 meter tall giant greenhouse; a European garden; a gigantic 10 thousand square meter garden; and aquatic flower beds; and visitors can enjoy flowers year round.
There’s also a one kilometer long viewing gallery circuit with a roof, ensuring that visitors can enjoy the park’s flowers in comfort even on rainy days.
The park also has a shop and restaurant where you can enjoy local cuisine such as Japanese pear soft serve ice cream and Daisen G Beer. We were here on autumn season, so there were not much flowers to be seen (peak season is spring and autumn), however they do have night illumination events.
Map: Tottori Flower Gallery とっとり花回廊
Apart from Detective Conan, Tottori Prefecture is also home to Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro. Mizuki Shigeru, the manga artist was raised in the city of Sakaiminato, Tottori.
At Mizuki Shigeru Museum, visitors can see the world of the creator’s unique and diverse art works as well as the world of Yokais, which represent Mizuki’s philosophy and spirit, through the exhibitions and motion pictures. Renovated in 2012, the museum was upgraded with many new exhibitions, such as Japanese house diorama where Yokais are hiding inside, and a room replicating the Mizukis’ cozy life.
Map: Mizuki Shigeru Museum
Mizuki Shigeru Road is a popular destination for children and adults alike. The road, extending from Sakaiminato Station into the city proper, is an 800-meter-long arcade with some 153 bronze statues of Mizuki’s fantasy creatures on display, including details on each character. Stopping for a close look at each of these could take all day! A stroll along the road at night, when all the statues are lit up, is an altogether different delight.
From the healing Kappa Spring, to the Yokai Jinja, a sort of fantasy shrine at which fortune slips can be drawn, to the Yokai Post, where mail with the ‘fairy postmark’ gets delivered, Mizuki Shigeru Road will surround you with bizarre creatures.
Remember to get your hands on a yokai handbook. Collect yokai stamps at the different facilities along Mizuki Shigeru Road, and exchange the stamps for various gifts available only at the Sakaiminato Tourism Office.
Map: Mizuki Shigeru Road
We were so lucky to be staying at The Kaike Grand Hotel Tensui (皆生グランドホテル天水), a sea fronting hotel located on the beautiful shores of Yumigahama and boasts breathtaking ocean views.
Again, we were so lucky because it is matsuba crab season from November to March! Sakaiminato in Tottori produces the most crab in all of Japan and snow crabs caught in the Tottori area are called “Matsuba crab”. Matsuba crab is so delicious because of the plankton-rich seafloor environment of the region, resulting in crabmeat packed with flavor.
The kaiseki course at The Kaike Grand Hotel Tensui is so good! They even brew their own sake, so delicious. We ended the night with a nice soak at the onsen with sea view, best!
We started our day early at the Sakaiminato Sakana Center. It is a place where both residents and tourists can purchase Matsuba crab directly. You can ask the restaurant to prepare it for you, while enjoying other fresh sea produce in the market.
Map: Sakaiminato Sakana Center
Just next to the fish market is Yumeminato Tower. It has an observation room with a height of 43 m above ground. This means you can enjoy a panorama of the Sea of Japan and Mt. Daisen. They gave us a certificate that states that we have been to the shortest tower in Japan haha. I like their positivity.
Map: Yumeminato Tower
Mt. Daisen, a volcanic mountain located in Tottori Prefecture is a famous landmark here. It is the highest in the Chugoku region with an elevation of 1,709 meters. It resembles Mount Fuji in the winter, with its snow-capped top. Daisen ranch milk village is a famous milk producer here.
The view during autumn is so beautiful!!
Do not leave without trying some soft serve/fresh milk from Daisen!
Map: Daisen ranch milk village
Let’s have some outdoor fun at Morinokuni Forest Kingdom! Located among the woodlands at the foot of Mt Daisen, this is a popular place for adults and children alike, offering an expansive lawn for ‘green sledding’ as well as various obstacle courses. There is also vegetable-picking in warmer weather and snow-shoeing offered in winter for a varied menu of options throughout the year.
We had a delicious barbeque lunch here, fuelling up before all the activities.
Map: Morinokuni Forest Kingdom
Oenosato Natural Farm in Yazu District is the place for sweets when visiting Tottori. Oenosato pancakes made with Tenbiran eggs are only available at the Coco Garden at Oenosato Natural Farm. Tenbiran eggs are eggs from chickens raised at this farm and the pancakes made with them are loved for the fluffy texture. Along with this, the place offers various restaurants and cafes and chances for handmade experiences.
“Tenbiran” eggs are eggs produced from honest egg farming. While natural breeze blows through the farm, cheerfully roaming free-range chickens lay eggs, which offer yellow, rich-flavored yolk and firm whites.
We learnt how to make our Baumkuchen in one of the classrooms. It requires a lot of time, patience, skill and experience to make it, I won’t be complaining that it’s expensive anymore.
We got to bring home our hand made Baumkuchen. It tasted so so so good, good eggs really do make a great difference.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the best pancake that I’ve ever had in my life. Oenosato Natural Farm’s most popular item “Oenosato Natural Farm Pancakes” are so puffy and fluffy, made with the famous Tenbiran eggs. With the eggs’ deep, rich flavor, the fresh egg fragrance fills the air when the pancakes are cooked.
Map: Natural Farm Coco Garden 大江ノ郷自然牧場 ココガーデン
OOE Valley Stay has got to be my favourite stay this trip. It is not the most luxurious and expensive hotel, but it has a certain charm to it. The hotel was converted from a former primary school.
I was staying in the normal loft room but it feels so cozy, modern and clean. They have other (really beautiful) room type that you can refer to here.
Balmuda boiler, Panasonic nanoe hair dryer, in house cotton pyjamas…the owner has really good taste.
The hotel’s restaurant, Irori, serves carefully prepared cuisine made of such as river fish from clear stream and local vegetables in Tottori. In addition, local sake and craft beers, wine carefully selected around Tottori. Dinner course with Tottori wagyu starts from 4,200 yen per pax.
Map: OOE Valley Stay
This is the best tamago kake gohan that I’ve ever tried too! Made using “tenbiran” eggs of course, because the farm and the hotel share the same owner.
The hotel’s gym is located inside the school hall, how cool is that!
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The Sand Museum is my second favourite museum in Japan, after 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa. The sand sculptures were built using only sand and water; and every year the museum will be closed for four months as they demolished and reuse the sands for new sculptures next year. The theme is South Asia this year and next year it’s going to be all about Czech Republic! Everything has been meticulously created with crazy details!
The Tottori Sand Dunes are the largest sand dunes in Japan and Tottori’s most famous tourist attraction. Located just outside the city centre, they span roughly 16 kilometres of coast along the Sea of Japan and are up to two kilometres wide and 50 meters high. They are part of the Sanin Kaigan National Park. Camel riding is a thing to do here, it was so fun to go around the sand dunes.
Map: Tottori Sand Dunes
For lunch, we headed to Ajiroya (お食事処 あじろや) that serves fresh seafood and it is located just beside the port of Uradome Coast Island Cruise! The kaisen don and stone grilled prawns were so fresh and delicious.
A popular way to enjoy the beauty of the entire Uradome area is by taking a cruise. The Uradome Coast Island Tour boats depart every 30 minutes, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., March to November. The pilots skillfully guide their vessels through the jagged rocks and close to the cliffs. If you are really adventurous, why not try a squid ink ice cream from the port?
Map: Uradome Coast Island Cruise
We spent our final night at Hotel Nikko Kansai Airport before taking the earliest flight out on the next day. Directly accessible within Kansai International Airport, Hotel Nikko Kansai Airport features comfortable rooms with free WiFi.