Sandboarding is widely practiced in the Tottori prefecture of Japan. The largest sand dune system in the country, the Tottori Sand Dunes, is where all the sandboarding fun is at. There have also been a few successful attempts at volcano boarding the iconic Mt. Fuji, although no established facility is present and the legality of sandboarding at the sacred mountain is disputed.
Sandboarding at Tottori Sand Dunes
The Tottori Sand Dunes National Park (Tottori Sakyu in Japanese) is home to a 2 km long stretch of coastal sand dunes resembling those of a desert. The area resembles a desert during summer, while it’s often covered by snow during winter and vegetation during spring and autumn. You can enjoy great landscapes and recreational activities, and even find camels there – although they are mostly a tourist attraction rather than local wildlife.
You can book a sandboarding class in English with the Tottori Sakyu Sand Board School. For ¥3,500 you will get 2 hours with an instructor and all the equipment you need, including a sandboard or sand sled (for sitting – up to two people and ideal for children). Mind that the class will only take you to some of the smaller slopes, while you will need to bring your own board if you are planning to go sliding down the taller dunes.
When to go
You can go sandboarding at Tottori Sand Dunes during the summer, any time between the 15th of April and the 30th of November. You may need to make a reservation by calling 0857-23-1749 (in Japanese) if you are going independently. During winter, the slopes are often covered in snow or ice and sandboarding and sledding are not allowed, but you are still able to visit. From late October to early November is the best time to visit if you want to witness the purple scallion flowers blooming at the site, next to the dunes.
The second most popular sport activity after sandboarding at Tottori is paragliding. This is particularly tempting because it will give you an incredible view of the Sea of Japan from the dunes. You can arrange a 3 hours class with the Tottori ParaGlider School for ¥8000.
You can arrange to ride a camel through the Rakudaya store (Japanese only, sorry). Fare is ¥1300 for one person or ¥2500 for a tandem.
The Sand Museum
The Sand Museum is a must see during your trip at the Tottori Sand Dunes. It hosts a large number of incredibly stunning sculptures made entirely of sand, with a theme that changes every year. The sand carving work is impressive and highly detailed, and the whole
From Okayama Station, take the “Super Inaba” Limited Express to Tottori Station → Tottori Sand Dunes Information Center Sandpal Tottori
Approx. 2 hours from Okayama
From the Keihanshin area
Take the “Super Hakuto” Limited Express to Tottori Station → Tottori Sand Dunes Information Center Sandpal Tottori
Approx. 2 hours and 40 minutes from Osaka
Sandboarding on Mt. Fuji
The iconic Mount Fuji has not erupted since 1707 – but it is still an active volcano. While there is no “official” way to sandboard on Mt. Fuji, there is plenty of video evidence of people successfully sliding down its slopes in the early 2000s, and many people head there for snowboarding during the winter season.