Remember when Tottori Prefecture finally got a Starbucks after all these years of being one of the few places in the world without one? Oh man, that was crazy.

Tottori is just one of those places. The kind of area that’s so quiet and uneventful that not even Starbucks, the corporate giant that’s more than happy to smother historic cultural heritage sites with their over-roasted beans and pricey lattes for a quick buck, spent decades more or less pretending it didn’t even exist. The Prefecture’s population of just over half a million is shockingly small by densely-populated Japan’s standards, and it’s just generally ignored by the rest of Japan as a place that, well… doesn’t have much to see, to put it kindly.

But wait a second! What’s this?! Tottori has been sitting on an amazing tourist draw in the form of a sand sculpture museum that features mind-boggling, award-winning and massive sand sculptures and they basically haven’t even really told anybody about it.


We sent one of our Japanese writers to check the museum out – because none of the English writers could be trusted around a bunch of fragile works of art – and he came back almost giddy with praise.

Our writer, Mr. Sato (yes, that one! Contrary to this, this and this, he’s surprisingly cultured and appreciate of the arts), said the museum’s exhibit at the time of his visit was entitled, “Germany: Travel Around the World in Sand,” and featured, well, a bunch of stuff from Germany. Although it seemed like more or less a hodgepodge of random bits from Germany’s history, the exhibit included such impressive and varied works as a sand sculpture of the Brothers Grimm, recreations of the construction and eventual destruction of the Berlin Wall, depictions of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation, and… probably some other stuff we didn’t pay attention to in history class.


Strolling through the massive, warehouse-like facility that housed the mammoth sculptures, Mr. Sato was reminded of that other sculptures-made-of-powdery-stuff attraction of Japan, Sapporo’s Snow Festival, and concluded that the sculptures of the Sand Museum were so awe-inspiring that Tottori could easily host a Sand Festival and draw hundreds of thousands of tourists just like Sapporo!

Sure, but Sapporo hosting a snow festival makes a ton of sense, since there’s snow everywhere in the Hokkaido capital, but what does Tottori have to do with sand? Well, as long-time readers of RocketNews24 will known, Tottori is home to the Tottori Sand Dunes, Japan’s one and only sand dune range, and the Tottori Sand Museum is located right next to it, meaning sculptors employed by the museum can literally just walk outside with a wheelbarrow when they need more building material.


In conclusion, Mr. Sato – admittedly maybe a little biased as a native of that other comically small prefecture, Shimane – gave the Sand Museum his seal of approval, proclaiming: “Who needs a Starbucks when you’ve got such an awesome claim to fame right here?!”

Although Tottori is unsurprisingly off the beaten path, especially for those here in Japan on vacation, take Mr. Sato’s word for it and put the Tottori Sand Museum on your list if you can work a trip in to your itinerary. You can find the official website (in English) here, and here’s a map, too!






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