A rare day apart, whilst Hilary leisurely explored Okayama, (trying to re-charge her batteries), Roger headed to the north coast city of Tottori.
Whilst we were in Australia, the New York Times website featured a picture of Japanese sand dunes, and wrote about the latest show at the world’s foremost sand sculpturing museum. I immediately said to Hilary “I want to go there”.
So, three weeks later, I’m making my way into the hanger-like exhibition space. The theme is the United States of America; there’s the Statue of Liberty, there’s Mount Rushmore, there’s Neil Armstrong. And yes wonderfully, compared to my childhood sand castles, or our kid’s dams, these are industrially gigantic.
Under the creative leadership of Katsuhiko Chaen, 19 leading sand sculptors from all around the world have produced tableaux that are both visually stunning and technically excellent. Apparently, the secrets are to compact the sand and water mix thoroughly, not to make the chins too deep that the heads fall off, and then to “get the shadows right”.
Afterwards, I went for a stroll nearby on the largest sand dunes in Japan. From the highest point, there was an impressive view of the Sea of Japan. And a couple of children were making their own castles in the sand.
If you plan to do this Off the standard tourist trail, Tottori is actually easy to reach by day trip from Okayama. Arriving in Tottori mid-morning by train, Roger had plenty of time to see the Sand Museum, walk on the dunes and have a bite to eat, before getting the late afternoon return.