Tottori Sand Museum
Ephemeral Sculptures Exhibition
The only Japanese Sand Museum is located in Tottori, on the shores of the Sea of Japan, in Chugoku area. Since November 2006, in the vicinity of Tottori Sand Dunes, this exhibition hall presents each year a temporary exhibition themed on specific places in the world or times, displaying beautiful huge sand sculptures.
Reduced opening hours in 2020 in the context of Coronavirus outbreak:
- Sunday to Friday: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Saturday: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Sand Museum’s artists use simple instruments, such as shovels and trowels, and only Tottori’s sand and water to model marvelous monumental sculptures, of a great delicacy and a lyric realism. The sand comes to life thanks to the sculptors’ meticulous work and before the awestruck visitors’ eyes.
The exhibition hall opens on a ground floor where it is possible to get very close to the sand sculptures. The huge size of the bas-reliefs echoes harmoniously with the delicacy of details and expressions. A suspended walkway offers an interesting panoramic view over the group of statues.
Katsuhiko Chaen, the Sand Museum's executive producer since its opening, is in charge of the sculptures design. He chooses the annual themes always bearing in mind it should be of an easy historical understanding for most Japanese and foreign visitors. Each year, the chosen place is represented by several typical landscapes, in the manner of a touristic guide.
In 2016, a team of eighteen sculptors from around the world have created nineteen sceneries for the annual exhibition "Travel the world with sand: South America". The artists made an astounding work in crafting a reproduction of Rio de Janeiro Christ the Redeemer statue and the extraordinary El Dorado, the City of Gold.
A third of the artists’ team is renewed every year, and each artist is responsible for one sculpture.
Exhibition "Travel the world with sand"
Sand sculptures were exhibited outdoor until 2010, and a building was constructed in 2011, to protect them from weather conditions. As a consequence, there was no exhibition in 2011 to allow for the construction of the building. Since 2006, several countries, areas and historical periods have benefited from an exhibition. Among the last ones were:
- 2016: South America (the one visited for this article);
- 2017: United States of America;
- 2018: Northern Europe;
- 2019: South Asia;
- 2020: Czechia and Slovakia.
The museum usually closes between the New Year and mid-April to allow for demolition of the sculptures. The sand is recycled to build the new sculptures for the next exhibitions.
The Sand Museum receives an average of half a million visitors each year, and frequentation is very high especially from May to August. In this wonderful museum, pictures are allowed but visitors are advised to take care of not damaging the sculptures by a clumsy move, which seems to happen quite often.