National

Tottori locals skeptical of ¥300 million sand hourglass plans

Kyodo

A project to construct a huge sand hourglass in front of JR Tottori Station as a major tourist perk is drawing mixed reactions from locals, with some calling it extravagant and in bad taste.

The Tottori Chamber of Commerce and Industry is leading the project, which would feature what has been touted as Japan’s largest sandglass at 6 meters tall and with a circular frame bearing a design themed on Tottori’s traditional Kasa Odori (Umbrella Dance).

At present, Japan’s largest sandglass, which is 5.2 meters tall, is in neighboring Shimane Prefecture.

Tottori is known for its famed sand dunes, with local tourism and other industries trying to cash in on various products associated with sand.

“We wish Tottori, which has the sand dune, would hold the title as the champion of sandglass,” said Noriaki Yokoyama, 48, an official of the Tottori Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

If the project goes as planned, the sandglass would be built in summer 2018 at an estimated cost of more than ¥300 million.

According to the design blueprint, sand falls from one chamber to another in an hour and then the entire glass rotates 180 degrees along a circular frame.

But a survey conducted last May by the group’s 182 member businesses showed 51 percent of respondents said its design is “not good” or “not very good,” while the remaining 49 percent said “very good,” “good” or “acceptable.”

Reactions from local residents were even harsher, Yokoyama admitted. The group has received calls from people saying they are worried that the cost of the project, which is partly funded with public money, could weigh on the quality of public services.

Given the developments, the group now plans to conduct another survey in spring, Yokoyama said.

He said it may re-examine the project depending on the results of the survey and a cost-benefit analysis.

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