Tottori is located at the western edge of Japan’s main island of Honshu, in the northeast area of the Chugoku region. It is a fairly long and narrow prefecture running some 120 km east to west and 50 km north to south. To the north is the Sea of Japan, with the Tottori Sand Dune and lovely beaches dotted with pine trees. In the south is the Chuguku Mountains, including Mt Daisen, the highest peak in the region. Into this mountainous terrain extend three river basins forming valleys in which developed the three cities of Tottori, Kurayoshi and Yonago. The climate is temperate, with four distinct seasons; weather is relatively fine from spring to autumn, with some snow in winter. The area is also blessed with a relative absence of typhoons and other natural disasters.
Used as the location for Teshigahara Hiroshi's classic 1964 film Woman in the Dunes, the Tottori sand dunes are on the coast about 5km from the city. There's a viewing point on a hillside overlooking the dunes, along with parking and the usual array of tourist schlock. You can even get a 'Lawrence of Arabia' photo of yourself accompanied by a camel. Pick up maps at the Sand Pal Tottori Information Centre.
Mitokusan Sanbutsuji Temple
Sanbutsuji is a mountain temple on the premises of 900-meter high Mt Mitoku. The temple, built into the mouth of a cave on a sheer precipice, is a one-of-a-kind national architectural treasure further renowned for the beauty of construction in its jaunty roof and hall support beams. The precise date of construction is unknown, but legend has it that the structure was built from the ground up through the spiritual power of the founder of the mountain asceticism-shamanism tradition Shugendo, En no Ozuno.
Viewing the temple up close requires traversing a rather rough mountain road, but a perfectly agreeable vista is possible from the safety of one’s vehicle at the nageiredo yohaisho.
Tottori Shan Shan
Tottori Shan-Shan Matsuri Festival is the biggest summer festival in the prefecture held every August. The main part of this festival is the “Inaba No Kasaodori Dance”, which is arranged in a way that anyone can dance easily using an umbrella called “Shan-Shan Gasa Umbrella” that has long been known to the eastern part of Tottori prefecture. The number of people participating in dance exceeds 4,000 people every year, showing a simultaneous beauty with many dancer’s umbrellas moving harmoniously at the same time.