Shonai Sand Dunes are Japan’s longest dunes stretching 35 kilometres along the Sea of Japan and are recognised as one of Japan’s three most scenic sand dune ecosystems. Fields of pine trees sit behind the dunes and contrast beautifully with the vast stretch of white sandy beach with stunning views of Mount Chokai in the background. The Yunohama Coast at the southern tip of the Shonai Sand Dunes has been selected as one of Japan’s best 100 sunset views and the hot spring resort of Yunohama Osen along the coast is the perfect place to enjoy this spectacle during a stay in the area.
Shonai Sand Dunes feature in the novel “The Woman in the Dunes” by Kobo Abe. The wild landscape created by strong coastal winds, buildings eroded by the sand, the billowing sea and long curved beach serves as a creative inspiration to all who visit!
The sand dunes and surrounding area hosted the first Nordic walking tournament to be held in Japan. Using specially designed poles, visitors can enjoy Nordic walking for themselves in this beautiful setting. The famous locally produced melons are a popular refreshment for walkers and were presented to entrants in the previous tournaments.
Behind the Shonai Sand Dunes lies an oasis of melon fields protected from the strong sea breezes by the surrounding pine groves. The fields get baking hot during the daytime before the temperature drops significantly at night due to the cool sea air. This large temperature difference encourages the growth of rich and sweet Shonai Sand Dune melons. Yamagata is one of the leading producers of melons in Japan, be sure to try them when they are in season during summer!