San’in Kaigan Geopark
This article will talk about the unique tour and trails of San’in Kaigan Geopark which is known as the place that led to the discovery of the reversal of the earth’s magnetic field!
When speaking of Tottori Prefecture, the Tottori Sand Dunes is probably the first thing that comes to mind. But that is not all that Tottori has to offer! Just fifteen minutes by car, the Uradome Coast area is easily accessible. Here, you can get on a boat and tour the magnificent deep blue coast of the Sea of Japan.
Take a walk through the amazing sand dunes and beautiful coastal scenery of the Japanese Sea with us!
What is a Geopark?
A geopark is a natural park that contains a variety of scientifically important, valuable, and beautiful heritage sites. The main purpose is to revitalize the region by utilizing valuable geological heritage for education, tourism, and industrial purposes etc.
The GGN: Global Geopark Network, which is a member of the Global Geoparks, was established in 2004 with the support of UNESCO, and the San’in Kaigan Geopark was certified as a member in 2010.
In 2014, the area was expanded and recertified.
San’in Kaigan Geopark
How the diverse topography, geology, climate and people’s lives relate with the formation of the Sea of Japan.
The Basic Information
Area: Tottori prefecture / Hyogo prefecture / Kyoto prefecture coastal area
Interesting Fact: Genbudo is the place that led to the discovery of the reversal of the earth’s magnetic field.
San’in Kaigan Geopark Trail
“A trail that connects the Sea of Japan and the city”
Trail course 6
“Sand dunes and the ecosystem”
This trail connects the routes along the coastline and allows you to enjoy the magnificent natural scenery of the San’in Kaigan Geopark. This includes the scenery of fishing villages that are nurtured by the Japanese Sea and the historical cultural sights of the Japanese Sea coast.
This course allows you to walk through a variety of roads including the sand dunes, the rocky coasts, and the mountain trails.
Visit points: Tottori Sand Dunes Visitor Center / Sand Dunes Center / Sand Museum / Scallion Field
Tottori Sand Dunes
There is a tourist information center on the first floor with an indoor resting space that can be used for light briefing for family groups. The second floor is an exhibition space with study rooms, lecture rooms, and a mini theatre used for introducing the sand dunes. There is also a large parking lot outside.
*visitor center inside
More information: https://www.sakyu-vc.com/en/
Sand Dunes Center
Getting here from the Visitor Center can be a little far and a little uphill so using the lift service to get here is recommended. There is a souvenir shop, a restaurant, and an observation space where you can see the sand dunes from a high point. The restaurant serves a variety of foods that can be catered to various needs such as seafood, crabs, and meat.
The Sand Museum
Here you can find exhibitions of sand statues and sand art made from the sand of the dunes. It is interesting because the themes of the exhibition change from time to time and you can see artwork from different artists from around the world. You can enjoy and appreciate the sand from a different perspective at this museum.
More Information: http://www.sand-museum.jp/en/
Japanese Scallion Field
This area was officially a sand dune but was made into a Rakkyou (Japanese Scallion Field). According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, the production is the highest in Japan. The purple flowers bloom around the end of October which creates a nice scene for the eyes.
Apparently these Japanese scallions are quite popular among overseas tourist who visit Japan.
Uradome Coast Island Pleasure Boat
This is a boat that tours the islands around the dynamic Uradome coast such as Sennuki Matsushima, Kamogaiso etc. The main concept is “a boat tour around the geological heritage along with the epic drama and the birth of Japanese archipelago~”. The main attraction of this boat tour is that you can see the islands from up-close and dynamically.
The boat does not run in the winter due to rough sea environment so it is recommended to visit during the summer time.
*did not get on on boat cuz strong waves so walked instead
*ask matsui san about boat pics
Trail Course 7-9
“Exploring the Sea of Japan”
Ajiro Port area is famous for night light squid fishing and you will find many fishing boats and dried squid on sunny days. There is a trekking path near the port which leads up to a spectacular view.
More Information: http://www.sanin-geoparkkan.jp/eng/geositein/146/
As you follow the hiking trail from Ajiro port, you will see Sennuki Matsushima on the way. This is a landscape that consists of granite rocks that are shaped like a tunnel. Depending on the condition of the ocean, it is sometimes possible to go down and see it from a close distance.
Uradome Coast – Kamogaiso Rocky Shore
The Uradome Coast is 15km long and is a famous scenic spot in the area which makes it one of the highlights of the Geopark. You can take a boat tour around the granite islands which is also a very popular activity in the area.
San’in Kaigan Geopark Museum of the Earth and Sea
This museum offers interesting materials and videos for you to deepen your knowledge about San’in Kaigan Geopark. There are exhibitions of animals, insects, fish, plants, geology, and history of the Geopark.
Make sure to take advantage of experiencing this museum before you start your journey on the trails of the Sand Dunes.
Iwami Municipal Nagisa Exchange Center
This facility offers various activities that can be done around the Uradome coast such as canoeing and SUP boarding. Clear Kayaks seem to be the most popular.
The place that is used for boarding the Uradome Coast Pleasure boat has a restaurant called Ajiroya where various menus such as fish and shellfish can be enjoyed.
Iwai Onsen Area
This is San’in’s oldest hot spring town which is about a 10 minute car ride from Ajiroya Restaurant. There are many hot spring inns for people who wish to stay somewhere traditional while avoiding the tourist crowd.
Thoughts & Reflections
What did you like the most about the trip?
① Local guided trekking in the Tottori Sand Dunes
“Compared to visiting the Sand Dunes on my own without a guide, the experience was completely different. I felt that the knowledge explained by the guide about the Sand Dunes made me experience and appreciate the natural surroundings in a different way.”
② San’in Kaigan Geopark Museum of the Earth and Sea
“Although the building itself is not large, I felt that this museum is a MUST when visiting the geopark area. Here, you can learn about the the geopark’s natural aspects through a variety of materials such as original videos and giant squid exhibitions.”24, Male, Japanese
Why would you recommend this tour to other people and who would you recommend it to?
“The geopark itself has an academic theme of being a place that is rich in various topography, geology, climate, and people’s lives in relation to the formation of the Sea of Japan.”
“Other than that, various activities are available around the Tottori Sand Dunes and the Uradome Coast so I think I could recommend this tour to groups of students in the inbound field as well.”
“Many of the student groups I’ve previously handled are those who are studying Japanese or are interested in Japan. Which is why I think it could be a valuable experience for them to study this area which is geographically and geologically important for Japan.”24, Male, Japanese
What is the best season for joining this tour?
“According to local guides and taxi drivers, a lot of people come to visit the sand dunes in the summer for some reason. In the summer, traffic jams are unavoidable so it is probably best to avoid that season.”
“I visited and trekked through the sand dunes in October and the weather was neither too hot or too cold. It was quite comfortable and the sky was a beautiful shade of blue.”
“However, if putting activities that are affected by the winds and waves into consideration, it is probably better to visit in the summer.”24, Male, Japanese
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