From the Sahara to the Gobi Desert, governments elsewhere are planting trees in a struggle to check expanding deserts. But officials here are focusing their efforts on trying to preserve Tottori’s landmark tourist spot, grain by grain.
So early Saturday, on a morning already humid at 6 a.m., some 40 volunteers were moving up a gently sloping hill on their hands and knees, filling plastic bags with grass they had uprooted with their hands....
“There’s the fear that the balance of the sand dunes may have collapsed,” said Toshiaki Hotta, 50, who oversees this site for the prefectural government. “The sand dunes are tens of thousands of years old, so we human beings can’t have our own way. If we stop weeding, it will become grassland in no time.”
Especially beautiful is the way the dunes, once seen as a wasteland, have gained stature and meaning through literature:
It was in 1923 when Takeo Arishima, a novelist with a strong following among women, came to lecture in Tottori and visited the dunes. Mr. Nishio said Arishima was the first to refer to this area as sand dunes, in a poem in which he wrote about the deep misery he felt while standing in the middle of the dunes....
Kobo Abe is said to have visited a desertification center at Tottori University to conduct research for “The Woman in the Dunes,” a story about a man who falls into a sand pit where a strange woman dwells alone.
The comments on this post could go many places. You might want to discuss you own gardening attitudes or the film "The Woman in the Dunes." Let me also suggest thinking of other places that became beautiful because of the way they figured into a work of literature. And is there anyplace that was considered beautiful but came to be seen as ugly because of literature?