Whenever Tottori Prefecture is mentioned, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? According to the results of a survey conducted by the Tottori Prefectural Government on people living outside the prefecture, as many as 70 percent of the respondents cited the Tottori Sand Dunes as being most representative of Tottori. Correspondingly, when asked what colour they would choose as the image of Tottori, it was not surprising that brown and yellow came out tops in the ranking. Considering that as much as 70 percent of the prefecture’s land area is covered by forests, green could have been selected as the image colour if people know about this fact.
In a bid to let people outside of Tottori know that there is more to the prefecture other than the sand dunes, the Tottori Prefectural Government has launched a pink campaign. As to why this colour was picked, it was explained that pink has a peaceful and healing feel and brings to mind the image of love. To encourage tourists in Japan and beyond to “fall in love” with Tottori, it was then decided that the campaign’s theme would be on pink things and places within the prefecture. Besides the promotion of various pink items produced in and places located within Tottori, the prefectural government is also holding a photo contest until July 2016 asking for contributions of shots on Tottori Prefecture and/or places and things related to it or anything pink in colour. Do check out the details on the contest’s Facebook page if you are interested to find out more.
Read on to discover a list of the pink places and things you can see, visit and taste while in Tottori!
During the colder autumn and winter seasons, you will be able to see a pinkish sunset in Tottori if you are at a place facing the Japan Sea. On the other hand, when the weather gets hotter, the colour of the sunset tends to be bright orange or red so you would need to schedule your visit accordingly so as to increase your chances of catching the pink sunset. As shown in the photo above, the Tottori Sand Dunes are a good spot to see the sunset but do come prepared by dressing in warm clothing as the temperature falls drastically after sunset due to the strong winds from the sea and absence of sunshine.
Do you know that there are only four train stations in Japan which have the word koi (恋) (love) in their names? In Chizu-cho (智頭町) of Tottori Prefecture, there is such a train station named Koi-Yamagata (恋山形) which lies along the Chizu Express Line running between Kamigori Station in Hyogo Prefecture (上郡駅) and Chizu Station in Tottori. However, this train station did not attract any attention initially when it was completed in 1994 as it is located in the mountainous Yamagata area of Chizu-cho and there are less than 10 people who use the station daily. Its name came to have the word “koi” added due to suggestions from the locals hoping for more people to come (the term “come” or
“koi” 来い is the same sound as love) and that those who remain in the town will yearn for those who have departed from the station.
On 9 June 2013, the entire station was painted pink as part of the Koi Eki Project (or Love Station Project in English) which designated a number of train stations as those which will make wishes for romance come true. Besides the pink benches, pillars, dustbins or the train station’s roof, walls and fences, there are heart-shaped wooden wishing blocks called ema (絵馬) and spaces for people to hang up the ema after writing their wishes. Even the station’s name board is heart-shaped and there is a fictitious character Miyamoto Erio (宮本えりお) drawn on the rain shelter’s wall.
If you are planning to visit this pink train station, it might be better to travel from the Tottori end of the train line rather than the Hyogo end as Koi-Yamagata Station is just 10 minutes away from Chizu Station. If you travel from Hyogo, you will need to spend up to 50 minutes to get to this station which is the second last stop on the line.
The steam train SL from Wakasa Railway which was originally black in colour, has been painted pink and ran within the Wakasa Station located in the eastern part of Tottori Prefecture between 1 May and 8 May this year. The train which was manufactured in 1938, uses compressed air to generate power instead of burning coal to do the same. At present, there have been no announcements on whether the train will maintain the current pink colour or will be restored to its original black colour but if you happen to be in the area this May, see if you can check out the pink steam train there!
In July 2014, a food manufacturer named Brilliant Associates in Tottori introduced a unique pink curry sold in retort pouches to the market. As you would have known, the usual Japanese curry we see is brown so in terms of appearance, this new product naturally attracted a lot of attention. The curry gets its pink colour from the red beetroots grown in Tottori Prefecture which are often used in Europe and US for dishes such as soups, salads, and borscht.
The red beetroots are said to be rich in potassium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, natrium and calcium and drinking its juice is likened to having a natural blood transfusion. In addition, the presence of Vitamin B, A, C and E along with dietary fibres is said to boost blood circulation. Considering the fact that Tottori Prefecture is a suitable place for growing beetroot and can have up to three harvests within a year, this increasingly popular vegetable was thus chosen to be the main ingredient in the pink curry.
The pink curry was marketed under the brand name of Hanakifujin no Pink Karei (華貴婦人のピンク華麗) which actually means the ‘splendor of the flower noblewoman’ where the last two characters (karei) rhymes with the Japanese term for curry. As such, the company designed four characters who are sisters in a noble family – Yurika, Marika, Sarika and Ririka who appear on the promotional materials and packaging of the pink curry. Besides buying the retort pouches (980 yen each) to cook the curry at home, you can head to the Oenokian (大榎庵) in Tottori City which is a Japanese-style cafe-cum-gallery located in a traditional house. For just 1,200 yen, you can have the daily Hanakifujin set meal or omelet rice set.
Not wanting to rest on their laurels, the same company which created the pink curry came up with an even more intriguing product, pink soy sauce! At first sight, it will be hard for anyone to imagine that these bottles filled with a pink liquid are filled with the same soy sauce which we’ve been used to seeing as black or brown. However, make no mistake about it, this is Tottori’s pink soy sauce released under the Hanakifujin range on 31 January 2015 has taken the country by storm and even won the Best Product title in the 2015 Konna no arunda! Taisho (こんなのあるんだ！大賞) which aims to reward and highlight interesting and ingenious products.
Similar to the pink curry, the pink soy sauce also uses red beetroots from Tottori Prefecture. The taste and aroma of the soy sauce are no different from its counterparts which are usually black or brown but in terms of viscosity, the pink soy sauce looks thicker due to the presence of ingredients such as mizuame, a glutinous starch syrup (水飴). Soybeans are first used to make the white-type soy sauce before the beetroots are added.
In order to appeal to the female customers, the soy sauce is put into small and cute-looking bottles resembling those used for cosmetics and skincare products. There are three types of containers which are SAKURA in a small round bottle, CORON in a slanted bottle and ROSE in a long and tall bottle. Note though that all three types contain 100ml of the pink soy sauce and are sold at the price of 1,836 yen each (inclusive of tax). There are two other types which are, ADELINE and SISSY that come in larger sizes. Despite the slightly higher price tag, the pink soy sauce has been constantly sold out since its launch, be it in Tottori or in the local produce shop of Tottori and Okayama Prefectures located in Tokyo called Tottori Okayama Shinbashikan (とっとり・おかやま新橋館).
If you happen to be in Tottori during autumn (between late October and early November) do keep a lookout for the rakkyou flowers or pink scallion flowers (らっきょう). Some flowers are in a very bright shade of pink to the extent that they appear to be purple!
How about paying a visit to Tottori to discover the pink world it offers? You might just change your opinion of this place after your next trip there!