Japan is an island country, consisting of 6,852 islands, and the four largest islands are named Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku. Some cities are well known worldwide, such as Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima, but that’s not all about Japan. We have a variety of regions and landscapes, and there are still many places even I have never been to.
In the year 2011, a major earthquake hit northeast Japan, causing extensive damage and heavy casualties. The images reported from the nuclear power plant in Fukushima also scared or is still scaring off many foreigners. As a result we had a big drop in the number of foreign visitors. As a Japanese with an official guide license, I’d like to help Japan retrieve its previous healthy image and have foreigners understand that Japan has more attractive places to visit.
With that idea in mind, I decided to start a round tour in Japan in the summer of 2011, of course, with my husband, who loves traveling in Japan.
The first stage is the San-in and the Chugoku Region.
Starting from my hometown, Toyo-oka city, we traveled 5 prefectures in the regions in one week, and that all by train!
The stage 1
The first day: Tottori Prefecture
Tottori is located in the west of the Honshu Island facing the sea of Japan. It is known as the city with the least population in Japan. Very quiet. But! you’ll be surprised to see how beautiful the nature they have. Actually the San-in region is registered as a geo-park which was launched by UNESCO. The coast line in this region is very unique and has a lot of sites representing an earth science interest.
Tottori Sand Dunes: They are the only large dune system (over 30 km²) in Japan.
When we visited there, it was very hot, and the sand was well heated. Better to take sandals! To get the sight of the sea, you have to walk in the sand and it’s not comfortable with ordinary shoes. I got a lot of sand in my sneakers. Some people were also enjoying riding a camel.
There is a big parking lot, and visitors can find local food and goods at souvenir shops. We had lunch at a restaurant up in the hill. Enjoy the cable car to get to the restaurant!
Leaving Toyo-oka city early in the morning, we finally arrived at Tottori Station. (You’ll find the sand dunes before arriving at Tottori Station.)
From Toyo-oka to Tottori Station you can enjoy a wonderful landscape of the San-in coast line. It’s really breathtaking. My husband loves this part of Japan (see the page Toyo-oka for more photos).
At the station, the first thing you should do is to get a local map. They have a lot of free brochures and pamphlets. One of the good things about living in Japan is that they give good services! I love traveling in Japan. The trains always come on time!!!
Our first destination, Hakuto Jinja (Hakuto Shrine). In its Kanji combination, Haku means white, and to stands for a hare. That is, this shrine is dedicated to a white hare.
According to the myth, the hare was trying to cross the sea from the island of Oki to the main land. He tricked the sharks into sending him to the main land. However when he was almost there, he exclaimed that he had deceived the sharks. The sharks became furious and attacked the hare. The hare had his skin ripped off. Then, when the hare was suffering from pain, the god Onamuchi passed nearby. Onamuchi was traveling and serving other gods who would propose Yakami princess goddess for marriage. The god found the poor hare and kindly helped him. The hare got better immediately and revealed its true form as a god. The hare told Onamuchi that Yakami princess would be his.
And the hare is now enshrined here. It’s a very small shrine, but has a long story.
Hakuto Kaigan (Hakuto Beach)
In front of the shrine is a white beach stretching out. We had “ekiben” here. The ekiben (special local boxed lunch sold at a station) we bought at Tottori Station was great! Ika bento! Rice cooked with squid ink and squid meat on it.
Access to the beach and the shrine:
We took a bus at Tottori Station. Hinomaru Bus bound for Shikano. Get off at Hakuto Jinja. Approximately 30 min.
Our next destination was Kurayoshi City, where we stayed one night at a Japanese onsen ryokan (Japanese traditional-style hotel with a hot spring). The city has an onsen (hot spring) resort called “Hawai Onsen”.
It was a 20 minutes’ bus ride from Hakuto Jinja to Kurayoshi. Arriving at Kurayoshi JR Station, we took a pickup bus to the ryokan, Bokoro ryokan. Check their home page for more information. English is available.
Can you see how comfortable it is? There is a big common hot spring bath outside with a panoramic view of the lake, but we reserved a room with a private bath for my husband. It’s convenient. You can enjoy taking a bath whenever you want.
Room Hanautage 42,000 yen for two persons per night (two meals included)
There is a bridge to get to the large hot spring bath. Can you imagine? The bath is located in the middle of the lake! We could also enjoy summer fireworks by chance. It was really beautiful.
The food was excellent too. This is just part of the dinner (left) and the breakfast (right). Every time the madam in charge of our stay came and served a meal explaining what each dish was. We’d love to go back again some day!
The next morning we left the hotel and went back to downtown. Here are some streets of Kurayoshi City.
These buildings in Akagawara area are well preserved. It was like this before all over Japan…
Sirokabe dozo gun (Storehouses with white walls)
Look at the mailbox. It is rare to find in Japan now. There are many things nostalgic.
This is a local traditional craft item my husband bought at Nakano Chikugei (Nakano bamboo craft-work shop). If you visit Akagawara, why don’t you visit this shop? You can find something nice for your house! Or souvenirs for your friends.
Tottori Sightseeing information (English, French and other languages available)
Our first day was already full of discoveries, but it has just started…
Our trip continues … to Day 2 Tottori (Yonago to Sakaiminato)