TOTTORI, TOTTORI Pref., Japan -- Created by sediment deposits carried from the Chugoku Mountains by the Sendai River into the Sea of Japan over the course of thousands of years, Marines traveled to the sand dunes in Tottori Sakyu, Japan, as part of a Single Marine Program trip March 19-20, 2016.
This is the first time the SMP, based on Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, provided Marines a trip to explore the Tottori Sand Dunes. The dunes are the largest in Japan and are part of the Sanin Kaigan National Park.
After arriving in Tottori, the Marines ventured the town, observed the scenery, visited temples, rode camels, sand boarded and parasailed.
“On this trip I went camel riding, climbed the sand dunes, went on a lift to overlook the sand dunes, and tried various types of ice creams and Japanese foods,” said Pfc. Lea Mikheyeva, supply warehouse specialist with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 12. “Camel riding was my favorite part.”
Mikheyeva also said she enjoyed the trip because of the opportunity to bond with fellow Marines and learn about our host country by visiting shrines and temples.
Wind and sea currents help bring sand from the bottom of the ocean up onto shore where the coastal winds and movement of tides continuously shape the dunes and provide an ever changing landscape.
“The sand dunes was a beautiful area with a lot of history and outdoor activities,” said Oana Ivanoff, Marine Lounge Manager with SMP. “It was great being able to experience Japanese culture.”
During the two-day trip, Marines also visited the Kannon-in Temple on the eastern side of Tottori City. Constructed during the Edo Period from 1603-1867, the temple is best known for its Japanese-style landscape garden consisting of a large pond surrounded by a lawn and tall pine and maple trees.
“The temple was a fascinating experience,” said Mikheyeva. “I was excited and interested in seeing another country as well as their statues and rituals.”
Marines then traveled to Kurashiki Town and explored the Aeon Mall before boarding the bus and heading back to Iwakuni.
“The trip was an eye opener and from a teaching perspective, very educational,” said Mikheyeva. “I encourage others to look into SMP and go explore the beauty of Japan.”
Ivanoff said the trip provided Marines the option to explore Japan and its culture at an affordable price, helped build morale and plans to conduct it again in the future.
The SMP provides numerous opportunities for Marines to volunteer and interact with the community. For upcoming events or more information, call 253-4656.