The least populated prefecture in Japan does not lose out to other prefectures when it comes to sightseeing and fun to be had. Tottori Prefecture is perhaps one of the most unique travel experiences you will encounter in Japan with sandy desert adventures at Tottori Sand Dunes plus much more.


Table of Contents

  1. All About Tottori-ken
  2. 12 Things to Do in Tottori Prefecture
  3. Access To Totori City
  4. Takeaway

All About Tottori-ken

Tottori Beach Island

Tottori (鳥取) is a coastal prefecture located within the Chugoku Region. Its northern stretch including the capital city, also named Tottori, faces the Sea of Japan. Aside from the scientific marvel that is the Tottori Sand Dunes, the result of thousands of years of natural phenomenon at work, the prefecture is also home to several national parks which covers around 14% of the prefecture. 

Tottori-ken’s main industry is agriculture producing fruits, rice, and vegetables. Their most famous product is pear. Additionally, being a seaside prefecture, expect the seafood to be great! Matsuba Snow Crab is a Tottori specialty, the best season for it being November to March. 

Last but not least, an interesting fact about Tottori is that it is the least populated prefecture in Japan. According to the Official Tottori Prefecture Population Estimate, as of 2021, there are only 550,589 residents. To compare, Tokyo has an estimated 14 million residents. 

※ Encyclopedia Britannica, “Tottori”
※ Tottori Prefecture, “Tottori-ken Estimate Population 2021.5.1”
※ Tokyo Metropolitan Government, “Tokyo Population (Estimate) (as of July 1, 2021)

12 Things to Do in Tottori Prefecture

Without further ado, let’s look at our recommendations of things to do in Tottori Prefecture. For convenience sake, we’ll be splitting this part into 3 categories: places to visit, food to eat, and onsen for R&R. 

Main Attraction Spots to Visit

1. Tottori Sand Dunes

Camel shadows on Tottori Sand Dunes

This is the No.1 Tourist Attraction in Tottori with convenient access from Tottori City and what many people in Japan think of when they hear Tottori. Desertscape and seascape aside, fun activities like sandboarding, paragliding, and camel riding can be done here. 

We’ve covered Tottori Sand Dunes in our dedicated article. Read for recommendations and useful information. 

Tottori Sand Dunes, A Desert in Japan? 

2. Sand Museum

Also covered in our ☝ Tottori Sand Dunes Article. Amazing sand sculptures (not sand castles!) from people all around the world are exhibited here. 

3. Daigakuin Temple

Previously known as Keikuji Temple is located in Higashimachi, Kurayo-shi, it is a Buddhist Temple of the Soto Setc. For history enthusiasts, this temple is the burial site of samurai Tadayoshi Satomi of the Okubo Clan and his eight vassals.  

The temple grounds were featured in Detective Conan Episode 801: Tottori Sand Dunes Mystery Tour. 

※ YTV Detective Conan, “Case File

4. Yumeminato Tower and Park

Yumeminato Tower from Bottom

Located in peninsular Sakaiminato City is Yumeminato Park and its landmark attraction Yumeminato Tower. The best thing about Yumeminato Tower is its observatory that has a panoramic view of the Sea of Japan, Miho Bay, Mt. Daisen in the distance, the city and beyond, and more. On the 3F, there is a museum of sorts exhibiting cultural artifacts from the 6 countries neighbouring the Sea of Japan including special exhibits on Mongolian life - Nomad Tent

Entrance Fee: 300 yen

NOTE
Observatory is closed every 2nd Wednesday of the month. 

※ Yumeminato Tower, “Business Hours etc.” “English

5. Yonago Castle Ruin

Fully bloomed sakura on Yonago Castle Ruins

Atop a hill overlooking the city below, the first and largest castle in the San’in region was built. All that remains of the castle now, after being dismantled and used as fire fodder, is its rock base. A designated National Historic Site, the ruins of Yonago Castle is now a great vantage point for enjoying the cityscape, seascape, mountainscape, and cherry blossoms in spring. 

※ Yonago Tourist Guide, “Yonago Castle Ruin”
※ Yonago City, “National Historic Site Yonago Castle Ruin

Local Delicacies 

6. Itadaki

Though it may look like an ordinary Inari, Itadaki is anything but. Inari is made by stuffing seasoned sushi rice into an aburaage (tofu skin) pouch. Itadaki on the other hand requires boiling aburaage filled with raw rice and vegetables in a dashi broth. It tastes completely different from Inari. 

Itadaki is a classic lunch bento dish in Tottori, especially in western Tottori, Yumigahama area. 

7. Matsuba Crab

Huge Matsuba Crab

The star of Tottori Seafood is Matsuba Snow Crab from Tottori waters. Every section of the crab is naturally sweet. The best season for Matsuba Crab is November to March. Ways the crab is prepared include sashimi, boiled, hotpot, etc. While Hokkaido may be known most in Japan for crab, you can’t miss Matsuba crab in Tottori.

8. Kanimeshi

Kanimeshi

Crab rice is a Tottori specialty - see the pattern? Whilst Matsuba Crab uses male snow crabs, Kanimeshi here usually uses female snow crabs. This rice dish utilizes not just crab meat but also crab eggs. Seasoned rice mixed up with sweet juicy crab meat and eggs, it is a must eat for seafood lovers!  

9. Curry 

Tottori Famous Pink Curry

Known as Curry Kingdom, Tottori has a wide assortment of curry flavours and dishes. Love Japanese curry? You’ll probably be sick of curry by the time you leave Tottori! Try Ago (Flying Fish) Katsu Curry in Kotoura-shi, Pink Curry in Oenoki, Fried Rice Curry in Goto, and more. 

10.  Pear

Tottori Pears

We’ve also covered this in more detail in our Tottori Sand Dune article, but here we go again. Pear is a must eat when you’re visiting Tottori. Visit a pear plantation and enjoy pear picking! There’s also pear soft serve ice-cream to be found in the city!  

Seaside View Onsen 

Yanago City Seaside Onsen Resort

11. Umiiro Yunoyado Shogetsu 

The best thing about Umiiro Yunoyado Shogetsu is their onsen baths with a view of the ocean and beaches. These include outdoor baths where you can enjoy the salty ocean breeze as you soak.  

Day Trip:

  • Price: 1,100 yen (Adult)

  • Opening Hours: 3pm ~ 9pm 

  • Last Entry: 8pm 

NOTE

Overnight guests have priority. If the large bath is full capacity, you may not be allowed entry. Be especially careful during weekends and holidays. 

※ Umiiro Yunoyado Shogetsu (JP; more information available) (EN)

12. Kasuitei

Kasuitei is another onsen ryokan with seascape views of the Sea of Japan. Kasuitei has 4 outdoor onsen options, though some of the onsen have a garden view instead. Kasuitei is recommended for tattooed guests looking to visit for day trip usage, and you can book a private onsen for 2,200 yen / 50 minutes, reservations required. 

Day Trip:

  • Price: 1,500 yen (Adult)

  • Opening Hours: 3pm ~ 9pm 

※ Kasuitei, “Onsen

Access To Totori City

Easiest point of access to the rest of Tottori Prefecture is to start from Tottori City or Yanago City. If you’re coming from Tokyo, your best bet is to get to Tottori City by flight or Shinkansen, or if time is not an issue, by bus. If you’re coming from Osaka, Fukuoka, and other cities nearer than Tokyo, Yanago City is an option for your journey to start. 

The Tottori Prefectural Government has already prepared a detailed guide for this so we’ll let them take it from here. Check the link below. 

※ Tourist Information for Tottori, Japan, "Tottori Prefecture: 
Access From Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka And Hiroshima"

Takeaway

Tottori Sand Dunes Japan

Both a desert adventure escapade and an onsen getaway, Tottori is full of things to do. There’s also a slice of pie for the foodies too! This 12 things to do list is just the tip of the iceberg of all Tottori Prefecture has to offer. For travel convenience, Tottori City and/or Yanago City where the major attractions are centrally located is perfect for you. There’s a reason these 2 places are the hottest spots. However, there are still hidden gems in Tottori to be uncovered for the more adventurous. 

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