Translated by Greg
Adventure In Tottori! Onitsuka Tiger Factory, Sand Dunes And Historic Townscapes
Written by MATCHA-PR
Did you know that Japan's only Onitsuka Tiger factory is located in Tottori prefecture? Today we highlight a 4-day tour of Tottori which includes a visit to the factory, delicious food, historic streetscapes, and sand dunes to name just a few favorites!
Tottori - More Than Just Sand Dunes and Conan!
If you have plans to take a trip to Tottori prefecture, where will you go and visit? For many, the first places that come to mind could very well be the Tottori Sand Dunes, and also Gosho Aoyama Manga Factory, a museum honoring the popular manga series "Detective Conan".
But if you're of the belief that there isn't a lot to see and do in Tottori, then we think that you might have underestimated this part of Japan, and suggest that you read this article!
There are many highlights worth checking out. Tottori boasts delicious cuisine, many locations where you can enjoy beautiful and breathtaking scenery worth putting onto SNS, not to mention the fact that sneaker brand Onitsuka Tiger, whose popularity extends all around the world, has a production factory here complete with tours.
We will be reporting on part of our three night-four day excurstion to Tottori. For those planning their own trip to Tottori, please feel free to use this information to fill out your itinerary!
Let's Go to Tottori! Via Tokyo Only 90 Minutes By Plane!
The best way to travel to Japan from countries in Asia is to take an All Nippon Airways' (ANA) flight to Tokyo - Haneda Airport. ANA is the largest airline in Japan.
If you board an ANA flight that arrives in Tokyo early the next morning, you can be in Tottori by the afternoon. That means you can begin your sightseeing right after landing!
After landing at Haneda's International Terminal, exit the arrival lounge, then follow the directions and proceed directly to the domestic connecting flights counter.
Inside the International Terminal building you can complete your domestic flight check-in, then once your luggage has been taken care of, all you need to do is hop on board an ANA transit bus headed for the domestic terminal. Making your connecting flight is easy and convenient.
The good news is that for ANA's domestic flights, there's a special 10,800 yen ticket that's available only for visitors to Japan who live abroad. So compared to taking the shinkansen (bullet train) or highway bus, this is a worry-free and economical option!
Our Journey Begins With Tottori's Delicious Cuisine!
Tottori has all kinds of delicious food. As a result, many visitors have apparently been told by local residents that if they come to Tottori, they'll gain a few pounds before returning home. Of course this writer also had their fair share of this tasty local cuisine!
Mention Crab, and Tottori Comes to Mind!
First up is Tairyo Fish Market Nakaura. It's not far from Yonago Kitaro Airport, my chosen point of arrival in Tottori prefecture's western region.
Standing in front of the market building and serving as a landmark, is a large stone statue of Kitaro, the main character from the popular manga series, "GeGeGe no Kitaro".
The market offers an impressive lineup of fresh fish and seafood, and you can also enjoy fish that's been prepared and cooked for you right on the premises.
The picture above shows Kani Toro Don. It's recommended for those who'd like to get their fill of Tottori's famous crab!
Tottori prefecture annually boasts one of the largest crab catches in Japan. Tottori offers crab, with meat of the highest quality, throughout the year at reasonable prices. Residents of the prefecture are proud of their crab, and we were told that they often exclaim with confidence: "Mention crab, and Tottori comes to mind!"
Don't Miss Out on Exquisite Wagyu Beef!
For those who have come all the way to Japan and would like to eat delicious Wagyu beef, we recommend Tottori Wagyu Beef. It's been said that Tottori prefecture is one of the places where beef of the highest quality is produced.
The meat is very tender and aromatic, and is delicious whether it's thinly sliced shabu-shabu style and eaten covered with a tasty sauce, or served as a thick steak with a sauce on top.
Tottori locals proudly recommend their Wagyu beef by telling visitors they have to try eating this at least once in their lifetime. You can sample this beef at Daisenbo and Sumibi Jujuan, two restaurants in the Daisen area.
There's Even a Pear Museum! Try the Refreshing Pear Desserts!
Tottori prefecture is famous as a pear growing area, and they've even gone as far as building a museum to honor this fruit! While traveling from place to place within the prefecture, you'll definitely be able to encounter tasty desserts made with pears.
The pear-flavored soft ice cream in the above picture has a crisp and refreshing taste. You can try this ice cream at the Tottori Nijisseiki Pear Museum, where they have exhibits featuring this popular fruit. Inside the museum you can enjoy sampling pears and also western-style pears (yonashi).
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A Special Factory Tour for Onitsuka Tiger Fans
In Sakaiminato city, near the Yonago Kitaro Airport, sneaker brand Onitsuka Tiger's popular series called NIPPON MADE is produced at the nearby San'in ASICS factory. Here you can observe the shoe's production process, as you listen to the guide's informative and easy to understand explanation.
Being able to see and watch things you normally don't have the chance to is a precious experience, and this writer was very excited. For Onitsuka Tiger fans, having the opportunity to see these much admired shoes being hand made by a craftsperson, will undoubtedly prove to be a moving experience!
On the factory premises there's a glass-enclosed exhibit booth, and displayed inside were a pair of high heel shoes made especially for Paris Fashion Week!
Also, here at the factory, they make custom order NIPPON MADE shoes. With custom order shoes, you can choose the shoe's base color, line, the color of the shoelaces and so on. Customers can also have their own name or the name of the person they're giving the present to, embroidered on the shoes.
We've been told that shoes can be custom ordered in Tokyo at Onitsuka Tiger's Omotesando NIPPON MADE shop.
This factory tour is restricted to those who have reserved a spot on the Tottori Sightseeing Tour, with tickets expected to go on sale very soon!
Kurayoshi's Historic Streetscape -
Learn About People's Wisdom From the Olden Days
From Yonago we headed to Tottori prefecture's central area, and one of the places we stopped in at was Kurayoshi’s Shirakabe Storehouses (White Wall District), a famous area that has a retro kind of streetscape.
With the characteristic red tile covered roofs and white-plastered walls of the old and traditional homes (many have been converted into shops and services), the entire area has been designated as a building preservation zone.
If you visit here before noon, many of the shops are open for business and the area is lively and bustling with activity.
We recommend coming here when you have time to spare, and going for a leisurely walk as you soak up the ambience of this lovely and attractive area.
One shop we'd like you to visit while on your walk is Akagawara 1. It has a history dating back one hundred years, and formerly served as a shoyu (soy sauce) refinement factory for a large shoyu manufacturer.
The building was constructed at the time with the latest in earthquake-resistant technology, and though it's now an old building, it still remains in very good condition. Even today's generation can learn something from the wisdom and intelligence of people in olden times.
Many Fun Ways to Enjoy Tottori's Sand Dunes!
Next we headed for the prefecture's eastern region and the Tottori Sand Dunes. The sand dunes are famous as a sightseeing spot, and for this writer it was an amazing place that exceeded all expectations.
Though it doesn't have the grandeur of the Sahara Desert or the Arabian Desert, there's a sense of beauty and wonder that can only be found at these sand dunes.
In particular, during the time period from late afternoon until early evening when the sun slowly starts setting, light and shadow project a beautiful scene over the surface of the sand, and the view of the ocean in the background casts a mesmerizing spell on everyone.
If you sit together atop the hill with that someone special and look out over the setting sun, you'll surely be in for a romantic experience!
At the sand dunes there are also camels, and you can have your picture taken with them and also get on top and go for a ride.
If you stay here at the sand dunes until the sun goes down, you'll also be able to see a remarkable star-filled sky. This place is known as one of the best places in Japan to see a beautiful starry night. Looking up at the sky from the sand dunes with the stars lighting up the heavens, is a moving experience for everyone!
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On the Way Back Enjoy Some Shopping in Tokyo
If you fully enjoyed Tottori's highlights, then let's go to Tottori Sand Dunes Conan Airport and take an ANA flight bound for Tokyo.
On days when the weather is good, you'll be treated to this magnificent view of Mount Fuji from your passenger seat.
NIPPON MADE Shoes-Saw Them in Tottori, Bought Them in Tokyo!
Upon arriving at Tokyo's Haneda Airport, we made a mad dash for Onitsuka Tiger's Omotesando NIPPON MADE shop in Omotesando, to place a custom order for some shoes!
When I saw how carefully and conscientiously the shoes were being made at the production factory in Tottori, I couldn't help thinking that a pair of these would make the perfect souvenir to remember my Japanese sojourn by!
To place a custom order for NIPPON MADE shoes at the Onitsuka Tiger shop, just follow the instructions on the tablet computer. It takes about six weeks for your shoes to be made and then they will be sent to your home address overseas. All you need to do is wait for them to arrive!
Tottori-Sightseeing Spots Galore!
So how was today's adventure? Actually, I only introduced a very small part of what I experienced in Tottori prefecture.
This writer also had the pleasure of visiting Tottori prefecture's tallest and religiously revered mountain, Mount Daisen, and Daisenji Temple, which is located there, and Jinpukaku, a historic western-style residence where members of the Japanese imperial family once stayed.
I stopped in at many tourist spots and also places related to the highly popular manga series GeGeGe no Kitaro and Detective Conan, but I'll save those stories and comments for another occasion.
My honest feeling now is that Tottori prefecture has much more to see and do than I had previously thought. There's a wide range of delicious local cuisine, and it's a place overflowing with warm and hospitable people and a sense of gentle appeal.
This time I stayed in the region for three nights and four days, but I thought that I'd like to visit again and stay longer next time.
So while using some of the information and ideas in this article, I'd like to encourage everyone to plan their own adventure to Tottori prefecture!
Read More About Tottori:
Written by Sudsaijai Jumpafuang
Photos by Masami Tokumaru
Sponsored by ANA(All Nippon Airways) and Tottori Prefecture