Experience Japan’s largest sand dunes in Tottori while riding a camel! Tottori Sand Dunes offer incredible views and activities for the whole family.
Have you ever wanted to ride a camel? Why not try it out in Japan!
Tottori sand dunes
When we saw that we could ride camels in the desert, we took the earliest chance we could to go to Tottori sand dunes!
I need to give a disclaimer here. These are the largest sand dunes in Japan, but from what we are used to they are not that big. Matt and I had our first date at the St. Anthony Sand Dunes in Idaho – they are huge! But even if you have spent time in St. Anthony, Glamis or Pismo Beach, this is a Japanese take on the sand dune experience, and it is fun. The views and the experience more than make up for them not being as big as I expected them to be!
The Tottori Sand Dunes have been around for just over 100,000 years! They run ~16 kilometers along the coast and are a part of the San’in Kaigan Geopark system. They’ve been worried about habitat loss since the sand dunes have been shrinking over the past few years, and they’ve been working to counteract it.
The kids were so excited to ride camels – and they weren’t alone! Matt’s sister was visiting and we thought this would be a unique addition to her trip, but neither Matt nor I have ever ridden camels, and we were stoked.
We left after work on a Friday and drove to Tottori. It’s about a 5 hour drive, so we stayed at Hotel Tottori Ekimae which was nice and comfortable. It was stress-free to be able to wake up in the morning and get some breakfast without rushing or having to drive all morning. When we got to the sand dunes we were some of the first people there. From some of the pictures that we have seen and even by the time we left the sand dunes were starting to get pretty crowded!
We had this amazing idea to bring sleds with us so we could slide down sand. Yeah…it didn’t work too well. But we gave it a shot and hiked up to the top of the largest dune where we were able to look out over the ocean. It was a beautiful view!
It was pretty windy so I recommend making sure you have sunglasses to protect your eyes. Jeannie and I also wore scarves which were extremely useful in protecting us from the sun and wind. The boys used their hats with straps.
Because we got there early, the camels weren’t out yet. We saw the platforms they use to get onto the camels, and went exploring until the camels were ready to go. When we came back, we weren’t the first ones in line but we didn’t need to wait long.
After paying (¥1500-1800) they tell you which camel you will ride and you stand near the platform. When it’s your turn you climb the stairs and get on the camel! They then lead you away from the stairs and take your picture for you. After that they lead the camel in a circle giving you a nice little ride.
I’m not exaggerating when I say a little ride. It really only lasted 3 maybe 4 minutes. While they are walking they tell you a little about the camel. Age, name, where it’s from etc. Then the ride is over. It was really fun, just really short, too!
Royce absolutely loved riding by himself! He was so proud. He said that he wanted to try riding by himself after our first ride, and since he had been going through a shy stage, we didn’t mind handing over another bunch of ¥ to support his bravery. It was totally worth it!
The kids really enjoyed playing in the sand, so we took a little bit of time for them to play then we headed to the gift shop to buy them a camel to remember their camel rides. Jeannie is too young to remember but Royce definitely does. They also had a sand museum that you can check out if you’re interested.
It really was a great adventure and now we can say we rode camels in the largest sand dunes in Japan!
If you are heading south after visiting, be sure to check out Kawahara Castle on the way! It is beautiful, with great views of the surrounding valley.
What is the most unique animal you have ridden? Leave a comment to let us know!