Posted by Heliocentrism on February 14, 2016
Sunday January 3rd, 2016
First Trip of 2016
For our first trip in 2016, Mark and I headed for the beach. It was a lot warmer than we expected. No, we didn’t go swimming. But, many crazy surfers were in the water. It wasn’t warm enough to swim in a bikini, but you could walk around town in a t-shirt and light jacket.
Our first stop was at the Sand Museum. This sounds like it would be a very boring place where one can learn about the history of sand; it’s not. The Sand Museum is a fun place where you can see sand sculptures of various themes. The last theme was The Brothers Grimm.
We got there just in time. The very next day, the sand sculptures were schedule to be torn down. The Museum will be closed for several months while they work on the next theme with a new set of sand artists. The Sand Museum will be opened again in the summer.
We could have simply walked from the museum to the sand dune. But, we exited the museum from the back, walked up a small hill, then paid to take a ski lift down. We’re adventurous.
I was a little worried when I saw that the ski lift had no safety bar. You could sneeze too hard and fall right off. No one had fallen off, that I know of, buy many people where holding on the chair for dear life. (Okay, it was just me and some old lady.)
Mark wanted to ride a camel. That’s how he wanted to start the year off. This was going to be his year of animal riding.
We knew that the ride would cost about 1,300 yen (about $13). But we decided it wasn’t worth it when we saw that the rides lasted about 5 minutes. Plus, the camel guys shooed us away when we tried to take photos of the camels. I guess photos are for paying customers only. But, it’s a big beach and I have a zoom lens.
It was a pleasant dune; not too hard of a climb up. It’s the smallest dune I’ve ever seen. At the top I took photos and wrote some postcards.
Mark ran down the dune, trying to slide part of the way. When we were on the bottom, we saw a group of people with flattened cardboard boxes trying to slide down. But, their technique was all off.
They tried to sit on the boards and do a scoot start. The friction was too high for that. They should have lain on their bellies on the board and pushed themselves down the dune. That would have been fun.
After leaving the dune, but before getting into our car, we tried to do a complete de-sanding. We emptied out our pockets, took off our socks and shoes, and attempted to shake off every bit of sand from our persons. But still weeks later, we still find sand around the place.
After the dunes I went to a Lawson to buy some stamps and mail my postcards. I wasn’t too sure how much the postcard postage should cost. This wasn’t my first time mailing a postcard and I thought it should cost about 70 to 80 yen.
I told the clerk that one was to go to Japan and the others to America. She handed me several 52 yen stamps. “Really? 52 yen for Hiroshima prefecture and 52 yen for America?” The clerk discussed this with a co-worker and they both admitted that it sounded strange, but that’s what their postage book said.
When I sent the next postcard from the next stop in our trip, I was told that domestic and international postage was 70 yen. Well, lesson learned for next time.
The postcard I sent to Japan was for one of my schools. A teacher asked me to send the students a post card written in English that would be placed in the hallway for the students to read. It did get to the school. Someone, I don’t know who, paid the additional 18 yen necessary for the card to make its journey.
Before heading home we went to the Mizuki Shigeru Road. This is the town where Shigeru Mizuki grew up. The road is based off of one of the comics he wrote called, “GeGeGe no Kitarō (ゲゲゲの鬼太郎).
I’ve never seen an English translation of the cartoon version of the comic. So, I’m not familiar with it more than knowing it exists. Mark and I went to see it mainly because it was there and it was a thing to be seen. But that’s why we see most stuff.
How to get there:
You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.
Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.
- Emergency Numbers:
- Police 110
- Ambulance and Fire 119
- Important phone numbers to know while in Japan
- Comfort Woman
- The Commoner
- Empire of the Sun
- Flyboys: A True Story of Courage
- Geisha, a Life
- Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II’s Most Dramatic Mission
- The Last Concubine
- Memoirs of a Geisha
- Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath
- Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan
- What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
- Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan. Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
- International ATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cash and call your bank to ask what ATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
- ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
- The Post Office bank seems to work with the most international cards.
- You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan; I’ve never been a tourist here.)
The Sand Museum
- Coordinates 35°32’23.1″N 134°14’17.3″E
2083-17 Fukubecho Yuyama, Tottori, Tottori Prefecture 689-0105
- 600 Yen for one adult
- 9:00 to 18:00 (entry until 17:30)
- Closed between exhibitions (early January to mid April)
- There is free parking in front and behind the shops near the museum.
- Behind the museum there is a building with an observation deck.
- From there you can get a chair lift to the Sand Dune.
- There is also more parking here.
- 300 Yen adult one way
- 200 Yen Adult round trip.
Tottori Sand Dunes
- Coordinates 35°32’26.5″N 134°13’44.4″E
2164-661 Fukubecho Yuyama, Tottori, Tottori Prefecture 689-0105
- Official Website
- The Sand Museum
- Tottori City
- Activities near the dune
- Scenery from the dune
- What sea food is in season now?
- Always available
- There is 500 yen parking near the dune, but there is free parking near the Sand Museum.
- You can ride a camel for 1,300 Yen, but it is a very very very short ride.
Mizuki Shigeru Road
- Coordinates 35°32’41.2″N 133°13’23.6″E
Taishomachi, Sakaiminato City, Tottori
- 0859-47-0121 (Sakaiminato Infomation Office for Tourists)
- Official Website (museum)
- Shigeru Mizuki
- Tourist Information
- More Information
- Daisen Guide
- Information on the GeGeGe no Kitaro characters
- It’s free to walk down the street.
- Museum Adults 700 yen
- Shops along the street close shortly after sunset.
- The museum is open 9 – 5 (closed Tuesdays)
- GeGeGe no Kitaro is the comic the street is based on.
- Yokai means ghost(s) in Japanese.
- If you buy a “Mizuki Shigeru Road Yokai Guidebook” for 100 yen and collect all the stamps, you will get a prize.
- Along the street there are many stamp posts with various characters from GeGeGe no Kitaro.
- There is a boat to South Korea and Russia from this town.
Sending a Postcard from Japan
How to do it:
- Buy some postcards from a souvenir shop.
- Flip the card over to the non-picture side.
- Write the receiver’s name and address on one side.
- Write your short message on the other side. (Don’t cross the line in the middle of the card.)
- Put a stamp on the card.
- Drop the card in a mail box.
This is what the Japanese Post Office’s website says about picture post cards:
- Domestic (Japan to Japan) – 52 Yen
- International Surface (slow mail) – 60 Yen
- International Airmail (fast mail) – 70 Yen
But in reality all picture post card postage are 70 yen.
- Post Office Hours
- Small Post Offices: 9:30 – 16:30 (Closed Sundays, Saturdays, and holidays)
- Big/ Main Post Offices: 9:30 – 18:00 (Closed Sundays and holidays)
- You can buy stamps from some convenience stores like Lawson.
- They even have a post box right in the store.
- open 24 hours
- Make sure you know how much the postage is beforehand. Many clerks have no idea how must is cost to mail a postcard.
- picture postcard (絵はがき) (e-hagaki)
- Don’t mistake this for a New Year’s postcard, which can be quite expensive.
- Also don’t mistake a picture post card for a regular post card with addresses and stamps on one side and a message on the other. Those cost less to mail.
- It’s cheaper if you can get a variety pack of 10 or 12 cards with pictures of things all around the prefecture or city, rather than getting one postcard from every place you visit.
- Stamp (郵便切手) (yūbin kitte)
- post office (郵便局) (yūbinkyoku)
- How much is it? (いくらですか) (Ikuradesu ka)
- Do you have postcards? (絵はがき ありますか) (Ehagaki arimasu ka)
- Where is the post office? (郵便局はどこですか) (Yūbinkyoku wa dokodesu ka)