101030 Japan-Road-Trip_-_PKO0163It was still stormy when we woke up; it was nice to listen to the ocean last night, felt very nostalgic… It was going to be our last night in the van. We were headed to the ferry back to Hokkaido tonight.

First order of the day was to explore the shrine for the white rabbit. It was just a short walk from where we parked, through some beautiful old trees. The shrine was quite understated, though there were still lots of small rabbit souvenirs for sale in the shrine.

tottori sand duneOne of the (well publicised) big tourist attractions in Tottori is the sand dunes. Coming from SE QLD, so I’ve seen my fair share of sand dunes. These ones were nice and a lot larger than we had expected. We even managed to park (legitimately) for free! The main dune would have been close to 20m high, and stretched for a kilometre or two along the coast. There were other smaller ones running parallel behind this main one.

tottori sand duneThere were signs on the pathway to the dunes forbidding graffiti on the dunes, which I hadn’t thought about until I read it. Funny the way that works… We found a fairly large area that was still untouched from by people’s footsteps – a blank canvas. We decided to draw (by walking over the area) a giant heart. It wasn’t perfect, but it was certainly discernable, at least to us who knew what to look for, and where. We took some time to look around at the sand dunes that stretched along the coast. It was impressive, and curious as to why there was so much sand here, and only here. It’s such a rarity to find nice white sand in Japan, and there were mountains of it right here.

tottori sand duneRisa has never experienced what it’s like to run down a sand dune, so I gave her some quick advice, pulled out my camera and was half expecting to see her crash and tumble… She didn’t.

As we were walking back along the dunes a grumpy old man veered towards us giving us the foulest of looks. We realised why when marched straight to the heart that was on the side of the dune and started to stomp it out. Sad old man.

tottori sand dune tottori sand duneThere were camels and horse-drawn carts there. It didn’t seem strange at the time, but thinking back on it, seeing a camel in rural Japan is strange, even if there were some sand dunes. We later rode camels in their more natural habitat in Gobi Desert in Mongolia!

As we arrived back at the van (after thoroughly washing the sand from our feet/legs) the weather finally started the rain that it’d be threatening all morning so we took off.

There three places that are considered ‘Japan’s Top Three Scenic Locations’. The first was the underwhelming islands of Matsushima in Miyagi. I’m sure that before it was killed with commercialism, it could have been quite nice. The second was the floating torii of Miyajima in Hiroshima, which was beautiful.  The final of the trio was Amanohashidate which is a very, very thin peninsular that stretches across a bay, like a bridge to heaven.

Since we’d been to the first two, and with the third one en-route, we thought we may as well make the stop to say we’d been to all three.

It was late in the afternoon by the time we’d arrived. It was getting dark and the weather was still undecided. The best way to see Amanohashidate is from the top of the hills that surrounded, and the only way to get to the top of those hills is via a chairlift, which was about to stop running, so we didn’t have much choice. They say if you look down on it through your legs (so that you’re looking at it upside down) it looks like a bridge to heaven. I’ve seen the photos of what it looks like in clear weather. I guess people used to have a more creative sense of imagination pre-TV.

It would have been nice to get a photo to complete the collection, but the weather and time were against us.

amanohashidate amanohashidateThe only option left open to us was to walk along the sandy peninsular. Once you’ve crossed the rotating bridge onto the peninsular/island, you realise just how established it is. There are giant old trees growing on it, and it’s probably 50m wide. From this vantage, it was very difficult to see what makes it so special, which was a shame. We walked to the middle where we found a small old shrine. Risa said a few words and then with the light fading we headed back to the car.

amanohashidateIt wasn’t too far from here to the ferry terminal in Maizuru. We got there early to check in and get our tickets. A quick run to a convenience store to stock up on food for the journey (after nearly starving on the ferry to Okinawa, we learnt to stock up on onigiri and other things before boarding).

We cooked up one final dinner in the back of the Delica and got nostalgic looking back on the last two and a half months that we’d spent living together in this van.

Tomorrow night we’d arrive in Hokkaido.