Monday, December 22, 2008


The Seishun-18 (say shoon joo hachi kip-pu), is a great way for 5 friends to travel for a day or for a single person to travel for 5 days or for two people to travel for 2 days. The ticket costs 11500 yen (about US$115) and are only valid between different times during the year. Spring (March 1 to April 10), Summer (July 20-September 10), Winter (December 10-January 20). The validity usually avoids peak travel periods.

The day you use the ticket, you will get stamped and can use the ticket until midnight of the date that is stamped, getting an early start is a great way to make the most of the ticket. You can also get on and off the train, so it is a great way to explore many areas. The only downside to this ticket is that you cannot ride the Shinkansen nor can you ride a train car with reserved seats.

The Japan Rail Pass is still the best buy for foreigners travelling in Japan because you can ride the Shinkansen and any JR train or JR bus for 7 or 14 days, depending on which pass you buy.

Satoshi and I used this ticket to go to Tottori this past weekend. Tottori is located on the San-in coast of the Japan Sea. It took us about 6 hours to get from Osaka to Tottori riding various trains. It was definitely a long ride, but we were able to enjoy the scenery and take several naps.

The most famous attraction is the sand dunes. It was amazing, all that sand! Higher than some buildings. The dunes were located about a 20 minute bus ride (360 yen (about US$3.60 per person)) from the JR Tottori station.

Coming from Hawaii, it was a weird feeling, seeing all that sand and seeing all the people bundled up in warm jackets.

We stayed at the Hotel Tottori Sakyu Center. (Sakyu means dunes) This is located right next to the lift to the dunes. 8400 yen per person with dinner and breakfast (about US$84).

We rode the lift to the dunes and wandered to the highest point and back. (There were actually other courses mapped out, but just going to the highest point and back was enough for us.) Boy, does it work your legs out! I really wanted to go barefoot, but that would mean having to take off my socks and maybe freezing...

Next to the Sakyu Center, there was a Sand Museum. For 300 yen (about US$3) a person, you could go in to see awesome sand sculptures. This was the 2nd year for them to hold this event and the theme was Asian world heritage sites.

We went once during the day and then again at night to see the sculptures lit up. It was amazing and we couldn't believe that they were only built from sand.

From the sand museum, near the dunes, the town had an illumination area for Christmas. It was nice to see all those lights.

Dinner was CRAB! The area is famous for different types of crab. We figured that our dinner had about 1.5 whole crabs (bodies, legs, pinchers)... they had crab on the grill, crab in a hot pot, boiled crab....and on top of that there was sashimi, simmered fish, noodles, and fruit. Usually Satoshi helps me eat what I can't finish, but he was too stuffed!

Breakfast the next day, was modest but still filling.

Besides crab, Tottori is also known for tofu chikuwa, this is fish based like kamaboko but is made on a cylinder and this version had tofu added to it.  250 yen (about US$2.50). They are also known for rakkyo (pickled shallots), I'll post about them when we open our package.

On our way back to the station, we spotted a wagashi (Japanese confection) shop called Amamiya and bought some sweets. Choco mochi (soft rice cake filled with chocolate ganache) 80 yen each (about US$.80), ichigo daifuku (soft rice cake with a strawberry and some white bean paste wrapped around the strawberry) 100 yen each (about US$1) and a chocolate manju (a white bean paste manju covered with milk chocolate) 60 yen each (about US$.60)...everything was delicious and gone within minutes.

It was a great weekend trip, a little long with the ride, but definitely a nice time to talk and relax.

Tottori Sakyu Center
2083 Yuyama
Fukube-cho, Tottori
Phone: 0857.22.2111
From the JR Tottori station, ride the bus from #0 bus area to the dunes, get off at the Sakyu Center stop.

128 Suehiro Onsen-cho
Phone: 0857.36.1515
Open: 10:00-17:00, days closed are not regular
(Check to see if they are open before going)


Phoebe said...

wow I didn't think that sand dunes would be located in japan! Those art works are gorgeous!

Anonymous said...

Sand dunes look amazing. Lovely photos of your travels.


K and S said...

It was amazing, Phoebe, both the dunes and sculptures!

Thanks Paz, it was a great trip :)

Take care you two.

2kamuela47 said...

Those sand dunes are awesome. I really like the sculptures. Glad you had a great time. Take care!

Deb in Hawaii said...

I had no idea about the sand dunes--how neat to see and how incredible are those sculptures!

I would have been very happy with the crab dinner and some of the Choco Mochi too! Sounds like a great weekend!

K and S said...

There was so much crab, Deb, we couldn't believe that we got that much for our room rate, 8400 yen (about US$84).

Thanks Laura, it was really something to see.

Take care you two.

Anonymous said...

Just awesome and breathtaking pics kat :) Japan is such a varied and beautiful country with such delish likey crab ! yums

Anonymous said...

what a wonderful trip all around -- incredible sights and foods and a leisurely train ride there and back. That lit-up rose sculpture was amazing -- is there anything mixed in with the sand to help it keep its shape?

K and S said...

Thanks Shar!

Sorry Manju that rose was not a sculpture but a light fixture at the Illumination event.

The sand sculptures were made with water and sand only. They had tents around it to help protect it from the elements as best they could.

Take care you two.

KirkK said...

Hi Kat - Wow, considering all that was included it sounds and looked like quite a bargain!

K and S said...

We were really surprised by the dinner Kirkk, when we checked in, the guy asked us if we wanted a hot pot or the kaiseki, we chose the kaiseki, we also asked him if there would be some crab, he said, "probably", and then we got all that crab...we were quite pleased :)

Take care.

Rowena said...

So very cool to read this. Sand and crab!!! Glad you guys took the time to go out there. Makes me miss Hawaii and kona crab!

Anonymous said...

What a fun little mini vacation. Those sand dunes are cool!

K and S said...

Thanks Rowena :)

Thanks Lori, not many foreign tours come out this way :)

Take care you two.

Brilynn said...

Pretty photos!
Sounds like a great getaway!

K and S said...

Thanks Brilynn, it was a great weekend :)

Take care.