Region: Chubu
Prefecture: Niigata
Population: 55,474
Surface area: 855,69 Km2
The Island of Sado in the prefecture of Niigata is one of the largest of the smaller islands in Japan.
Historically, it earned a reputation as a place of exile for famous people and more recently, because of the gold mining industry which was initially discovered during the Edo period.
The island consists of two parallel mountain chains which extend from the south west to the north east.
Between these two mountain chains is the central plain of Kuninaka which is the most heavily populated area.
Lake Kamo which is on the eastern side of Huninaka is a salt-water lake and is used for the cultivation of shells.

What to see in Sado

Sado, in addition to being the celebrated island of exile is also, to a certain point, an important port on the maritime route between Kansai and the north of Japan.

It has a rich history and has its own particular fascination in the Japanese psyche.
It is also an island that has seen a demographic decline because so many of the younger generation are attracted to the various city centres of Honshu coupled with an aging population who have remained on the island.
In any event, tourism is an important source of income.

The Earth Festival which is organized by the famous taiko (drums) ensemble, Kodo, is an important event that lasts for three days in August near the town of Ogi with lots of traditional music and dance workshops.
The group invites other musicians from all over the world and after holding a concert on the first day, they spend the remaining two days playing with these guest musicians.
The emblem of Sado is the crested ibis, a species of ibis previously found in China, Korea and Japan but, since the year 2000, on the brink of extinction.

However, in Sado, after the roll out of special breeding programmes in captivity, it is reported that there are now several thousand specimens of these birds in this area.
A visit to Sado is not made simply in order to visit a particular temple or museum but because of the beauty of the landscape and for the chance to experience something completely different from the regular clichés of a large city.
The gold mines of Sado, (Sado kinzan) which were discovered during the Edo period used to produce around 400 kilograms of gold per annum and represented an important source of revenue for the Tokugawa government.
It is still possible to visit the mine and inside there is a museum that relates how the gold was produced.

There are two threads within the mine, one of which demonstrates the old techniques and the other, the more modern techniques in view of the fact that production continued up to the end of 1989.
It is also possible to visit the magistrate’s office in Sado which was responsible for the island’s gold and silver mines.
Senkaku Bay in the northern part of the island offers spectacularly beautiful scenery and is really worth a visit.
The town of Ogi is famous for its taraibune, (wooden tub-shaped boats) which used to be used for harvesting shells and the algae that are found in the waters that surround Ogi.

The history of Sado

The island of Sado has been inhabited since the Jomon period and since the Nara period, has constituted a province in its own right.
The island was under the control of the Honma clan and then the Uesugi. With the discovery of the mines and their prospective potential, the Tokugawa took over direct control of the island.
After the Meiji period, the island became part of the prefecture of Niigata. Historically, the island was renowned as being a place of exile going back to ancient times.
Amongst the more illustrious exiles was the Emperor Juntoku who was exiled here due to his role in the Jokyu Rebellion.
Then there are also the founder of the Buddhist sect to which he gave his name, Nichiren Daishonin and, one of the most well-known theatrical writers of Noh, Zeami Motokiyo.


tasty meals from the rich local foodstuffs

[ Aug.2016 ] This photo is a part of feast we had in our hotel in Sado Island in Japan. This time we stayed two nights in a hotel called Ryokan Urashima and on the…


back to Niigata Port by ferry

[ Aug.2016 ] After fully enjoying our holiday in Sado Island in Japan, we took a ferry back to Niigata City. There were more things we could have done in Sado, for example, we could…