Oct 1, 2014
Located 45 kilometres off the coast of Niigata prefecture, in the Chubu region of Japan, Sado Island is the sixth largest island in the country. It consists of two parallel mountain ranges – the Osado range in the northwest, and the Kosado range in the southeast. Kuninaka Plain, the flat land nestled between the two, is the most populated area of Sado Island and is home to seemingly endless acres of rice fields.
Coupled with the surrounding Sea of Japan, Sado Island’s incredibly rich natural environment offers a diversity of landscapes with spectacular views like no other. In fact, thanks a deep-rooted sense of community fostered among the locals to preserve and protect the island’s verdant forests and mountainous terrain, a bulk of Sado Island is designated as a quasi-national park by the national government. From trekking and cycling to simply sightseeing, nature-loving visitors will be hardpressed to leave the unspoiled natural beauty that makes up Sado Island!
Like a tale as old as time, it is said that life flourished on this island around the 8th century when the whole of Japan was still being formed as a country. Also around the time, Sado Island served as a penal colony for political exiles due to the island’s remote location, but it was also thanks to some of these highly cultured imprisoned residents – including ex-Emperor Juntoku and Buddhist monk Nichiren – that a unique Sado culture was born. Adding another layer of cultural distinction to Sado Island is the gold and silver mining operation by samurai officials during the Edo period in the 17th and 18th centuries, during which traditional arts and entertainment like Noh were introduced to the locals. Today, you can experience the intriguing history and cultural diversity of Sado Island through the myriad activities and tours available.
Sado Island would be sorely misrepresented if we didn’t mention their food, glorious food. The four discernible seasons can be characterised by Sado Island’s wonderfully fresh seasonal produce, whose rich and enhanced flavours are the result of the island’s lush mountains, fertile plains and abundantly stocked seas.
Over the next few pages, you’ll find out exactly why Sado Island is considered one of Japan’s best-kept travel secrets. Disclaimer: We shall not be held responsible for any sudden surge of wanderlust!
(text tan lili photography masanori kawaguchi / syunsuke shii/ katsuyoshi sekine)